With next year’s strategic planning process about to commence for many organizations, it’s time to think about your planning process and the assumptions you will make.
From decades of experience participating, leading, or facilitating planning meetings, I can share the single biggest mistake leaders make: underestimating the importance of assumptions.
Your assumptions can make or break a plan. They can also make or break a leader!
Most often, leaders don’t:
- Consider assumptions a necessary part of the planning process.
- Spend enough time defining their assumptions. Rather, they work with a basic set without critically considering other factors that will affect their plan.
- Challenge or think through the reality of the assumptions they make.
- Revisit their assumptions once their plan has been created.
Make addressing your assumptions a highly meaningful part of your strategic planning process.
By thoroughly addressing assumptions, you will make even better strategic decisions now and in the future. Here are a few suggestions:
- Evaluate the appropriateness of the base set of assumptions you typically use.
- Expand on that base set of assumptions.
- Go deep into the organization to get feedback on what employees see and hear.
- Always review your progress with your set of assumptions at hand.
- Consider bringing in an outside resource to challenge your assumptions.
As managers and leaders from different functions and/or different geographies map out a new business plan for the next year (or longer), recognize that we’re headed into a challenging time. Thus, the assumptions and plans you make now will be critical to your future success.