Predicting the future is an impossible task. Setting a course for continuous growth and improvement is more logical.
In the strategic planning process, some organizations analyze their lagging data and design a different strategic plan to “move” the data in an improved direction over the next several years. That plan generally becomes a well illustrated Power Point sitting on a number of bookshelves throughout the organization. I can write a three year plan for the improved exercise routines I will engage in, but that would likely live on my shelf as well. The plan wouldn’t account for many variables that occur along the way and how each variable might require an experience-based adaptation along the way.
Several prominent leaders, such as Henry Mintzberg and Herb Kelleher have left these lessons for us to learn from nearly three decades ago. Kelleher’s famous quote is, “Strategic planning is doing things.” Another prominent viewpoint on the plausibility of predicting the future comes from Margaret Wheatley.
“We can no longer stand at the end of something we visualized in detail and plan backwards from that future. Instead we must stand at the beginning, clear in our mind, with a willingness to be involved in discovery… it asks that we participate rather than plan.” — Margaret Wheatley —
It is critical to have a direction for an entire organization to move toward. A visionary and emotion-centered direction should be set. I just believe it is illogical that with a six week process of strategic planning where time is carved out with independent consultants to set my exercise course for the next three years.
Think of the end first and then collectively learn and grow your organization, with your clients/customers/stakeholders/staff in that intentional direction toward impact. Oversimplified for certain, but so is the concept that any one group can predict the future.