With 14 years of experience helping organizations create strategic plans at Corona, I’ve seen many stumbles. This quarter, our firm is authoring content about “what can go wrong” in our work. On this topic, I have created a five part blog series to help leaders avoid the common mishaps I’ve witnessed in the past. My fourth lesson to leaders is: be willing to say no.

A strategy must be focused by design. Period. The best strategy sets a recognizable stake in the ground. When a strategy is too broad or too vague, then an organization struggles to devote resources to the appropriate priorities. For example, you may need to do some fence mending with recalcitrant staffers who otherwise aren’t on-board with the new direction. Too often, the experience of strategic plan implementation is muddied by he said/she said differences in view. “Hey, I thought we were going to do X. What do you mean we are doing Y.” Then presto, you’ve got a stalemate. Unwilling to admit the error, we put the plan on the proverbial shelf while we sheepishly blame the plan for a lack of results.

Creating a strategic plan takes a leader who can avoid stalemate of the organization’s direction by addressing differences proactively. Building consensus is key to creating a plan that is workable. The next blog (link) in the series will address what happens when you don’t say “no” and the planning process becomes an exhausting feat.

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 II – Avoid side swipes

Part III – Dismiss unrealistic expectations

Part V – Don’t get too tuckered out