My blog series is chronicling the five major pitfalls of strategic planning. With years of experience under my belt leading strategic planning efforts, I’ve seen it all. When advising leaders, I warn them to watch out for “side swipes”. What is a “side swipe” you ask?

Your strategic planning process is in motion and out of nowhere comes another priority that collides with the strategy setting process. Akin to being side swiped on the highway, you and your vehicle are now out of commission.  Not only have you lost momentum unexpectedly as you deal with the shock from the event, now you have to turn your attention to the source of the collision. Perhaps it’s a slow-brewing challenge that’s morphed into a pressing emergency. Or, your organization is experiencing high turnover in key positions on staff or the board. Or, the always successful special event is turning into a dud. Whatever the case, you now must deal with a pressing issue that distracts you from creating strategic direction.

Before beginning the strategic planning process, I recommend identifying potential “slow brewing” challenges, avoiding major events during the strategic planning timeline, and starting your process with a strong leadership team in place. No matter how prepared you are, you can be “side swiped” at any time. Being aware of this pitfall is the first step to preventing it from hijacking your planning process.

Read the other blogs in my five part series.


The cautionary tale of 5 scary strategic planning mistakes.

Part I – Don’t self-sabotage

Part III – Dismiss unrealistic expectations

Part IV – Be willing to say “no

Part V – Don’t get too tuckered out