How many times have you been subject to what I call “the death march of strategic planning” – the long, drawn out struggle to come up with something you can at least live with, and which you know is not as good as it should be?

Most top professionals agree that the typical strategic planning process is neither strategic, nor good planning.

What is the key to a highly efficient, effective, engaging, aligning, inspiring, and clear process that brings your people together, focuses your leadership and organization, and actually drives meaningful results?

Let’s clarify the critical terms that come into play in highly effective strategic planning:

  • Strategies – explain how will we accomplish our most important objectives and goals
    • This presupposes you have clear objectives and goals
  • Goals – the best way I have found to define goals is: the measurements of accomplishment of our mission and vision
    • Of course this presupposes you have a clear mission and vision
  • Mission – why we exist to do what we do
    • This presupposes we know what we want to be to the people we serve. Mission is truly about what we are committed to being after doing what it is that we are great at doing.
  • Vision – the picture of the future in 1, 3, or 5 years we would see when we fully manifest who we are, why we’re here, and what we value most

Let’s be clear, strategy only matters in service of a meaningful goal(s). Meaningful and effective goals are really benchmarks of progress and success towards our vision and mission. Our mission articulates what we’re ultimately committed to being, while the vision describes what our impact on the world would look like when we are highly successful.

So few organizations have a meaningful and compelling vision and mission, which is the real starting point for defining the goals worth pursuing. Get these in place, and clarity about the strategies that will help us achieve them almost write themselves.

However, the opposite is not true. Making up strategies and goals first will never produce a compelling mission and vision. Too many organizations start with made up goals (i.e.: grow 12%, increase profits 15%, reduce expenses by 18%, etc.). These lack any fundamental basis as to why these are the best and most meaningful goals worth achieving.

Failure to be able to answer the question “why should we focus on these goals as the best and most important choices we could make for our organization and its future” is the reason why most strategic planning processes make no sense.


This is Part I of a series explaining how to make strategic planning – and what I call “Strategic Alignment” – one of the most powerful forces for accelerating and elevating the success of your organization.

You can find more information about Strategic Alignment at

To your success,