Category Management:  Break Through Strategic Planning – Why You Should Embrace It?


We are about to launch a Strategic Planning engagement with a large manufacturing client from Europe and we introduced them to this concept of Break Through Strategic Planning (BTSP).  Most of what passes as Strategic Planning is mostly an exercise in futility as it is limited to putting to paper the target for the organization stretched out over a longer time period – usually 3-5 years.  The mere extension of the planning horizon qualifies as Strategic Planning and it is doomed to fail – or at least minimize the results.

We will lay out the case for BTSP and how to ensure maximum results.  Let’s start with why do most Strategic Planning efforts fail and here are the reasons that we have captured over three decades of helping Leadership Teams:

This list changes slightly at every client putting it in the category of Predictable and Inevitable but we’ve covered that topic ad nauseum .

Let me switch gears and talk about the 5 W’s of BTSP:

What:  It is critical to ensure that the What is not limited to what we call “The Document” or the Plan.  It requires a detailed action plan of achieving the results, the accountabilities and measures used to track those, an immediate resolution to the gap in Talent and Competencies, an Adoption plan for the entire organization etc.

Who:  Getting ALL Stakeholders involved is obvious but often over looked adding significantly to the risk for the Strategic Plan.  While Executive involvement is obvious, employees, Suppliers(yes, suppliers!) are examples of Stakeholders who are often overlooked.

How:  Ensuring adequate resources, sufficient time, appropriate expertise, Next Practices research to incorporate them, etc again are often lacking.

When:  This is often a 3-5 year horizon with a rolling component to allow for dropping current year and adding a subsequent year.  The annual plan becomes a subset of BTSP and is more detailed and actionable.  The other factor to keep in mind is the ability of the planning process to react to external stimuli and adjust(especially the annual plan).  Events like COVID got rid of the myth that you don’t adjust your Strategic Plan.

Why:  And this is very important for BTSP.  And these must be kept in mind as you are going through BTSP because they should inform and influence the entire process and deliverables.

  • Creating alignment among a leadership team
  • Building consensus and engagement of all stakeholders
  • Establishing systems of accountability
  • Clarifying priorities
  • Analyzing the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, etc. to identify gaps
  • Creating mechanisms for evaluating progress
  • Fosters communication

In my next post I will conclude this discussion by putting in context “The Document” and what else is needed as part of the BTSP to ensure that all the reasons why Strategic Plans fail to deliver are dealt with.  They are the 3 A’s that are absolutely essential and critical (should I be more hyperbolic? ) to ensure that the promised results are exceeded.  They also future proof your plan as much as possible.


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