Five Key Barriers to Good Strategic Planning

"Leave me alone! I do not want to change!"

"Just let me get through this pile in front of me. The future will come – however it does – without my help today."

You've probably felt this way – most of us have – at some point in our work or life about taking the time and making the effort to build a better future when faced by the problems of today.

Future-building brings many possibilities, but it also brings with it problems. And a major barrier to progress is always finding the time and energy to even try to think far beyond the pressures of the present day.

Thinking strategically takes a different kind of attention and energy than does getting products out the door and on their way to customers. It also takes very different perspectives and skills than does solving problems caused by decisions made and actions taken in the past, which may have caused problems which are just showing up, and must be solved at the moment.

Here are just five of possible barriers to building a better future through effective strategic planning, whatever organization you're working with, or within.

See if any of these issues seem familiar to you.

1. You can not see the future from here.

If this is a barrier for you, you're filled to the brim, and beyond, with a sense that you can not see what's ahead, much less think about it strategically.

And you certainly do not have the capacity at the moment to consider criteria for a successful outcome, envision alternate scenarios and chose priorities, or plan an optimal course of action, complete with accountabilities and due dates.

2. There are too many choices.

You may be feeling this if:

a) criteria for creating a desired future circumstance are not clearly defined yet

b) priorities are not apparent, at the moment

c) there's not yet enough information about what's going on, and what may happen in the future with the primary forces of change likely to affect your company's fortunes in the future.

Whatever the case, having many options feels more like a burden than an opportunity in this situation.

And believe it or not, in this circumstance you may need more information, or you need to have the information presented in a way that makes it far more useful for planning and action-taking purposes.

3. Strategy is a dirty word.

Some people love setting strategy.

Others are far less enthralled with the "opportunity" that strategy-setting can present.

If you're charged with getting things done and out the door, on their way to customers on a daily basis, you may feel that the full-time strategists in your company are never around to see how their plans actually work out, once implemented .

And you may wonder what your role is in this exercise of future-building. More than that, perhaps you've never really been involved in it, and you're not confident of your abilities to do strategic planning effectively … but you do not want to admit it.

4. Tomorrow has very little to do with today.

If this is the main problem you see with long-term planning, at least right now, this may be how you really feel:

"Help me see how the work of today relates to the work of tomorrow."

"Make the strategy-setting and action-planning process tangible, achievable (and bonus-able), and help me feel a sense of achievement as we do the actual strategic planning work."

"Make me feel a sense of accomplishment in the process, and the planning outcomes."

"Make this part of my job – and teach me how to do it well – far more than you have today."

5. There's no guarantee about the future . We're just guessing, and there's a pretty good chance we'll guess wrong.

The frustration here may be that the future does not seem tangible, and the planning scenarios do not seem realistic.

Perhaps prior strategic planning efforts have not been well-planned, well-managed, or effective.

In that case, the ease and eagerness with which people proceed is surely going to be mixed, at best.

And this, ultimately, is what you're probably thinking if you're not enthusiastic about being involved in what can be a significant future-building opportunity:

"Take the barriers out of my way if you want me to help you prepare for the future, today."