Shel Silverstein’s book, The Missing Piece has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. I still have a copy and love sharing it with anyone that notices it on my bookshelf. The story is about a circle seeking to find its missing a piece (the inspiration for PacMan I am sure). Because the circle is missing a piece it moves slowly (think Roll, Stop, Roll, Stop). This is a great parable on self-acceptance, but it also has insights on how strategic planning efforts can stall out and possibly fail. They can miss an important piece: Strategy Integration.
Statistics on strategic planning failure rates are appalling: 85% of executives deem their strategic planning efforts as failures. In our experience, coming into organizations that have struggled with strategic planning on their own, we see what I refer to as “an air sandwich”: Vision and Long-Term Goals on top and Current Business Model, Budgets, Structure, and Market Focus on the bottom. In between, nothing but AIR.
The gap happens because all too often strategic planning is viewed as either a deep dive into analytics or an ideation session. Neither provides any “meat” to guide strategy execution. The most overlooked step in strategic planning is developing ideas into a full story of how to move from where you are today to your ultimate vision of success.
In our Strategic Planning Methodology, Strategy Integration is the fourth and final step.
Why is Integration the Missing Piece?
Integration of strategic thinking is the most overlooked phase of strategic planning because this is where the beautiful ideas generated during Strategy Creation get banged around to fit into the status quo. The authors of those ideas would rather have them parked in the second wave of implementation than have them modified for near term implementation. I can understand this protection instinct, but all too frequently ideas left to the second wave are changed anyway when new assumptions change and dynamics shift.
Another reason integration is frequently overlooked, is because it is demanding. It requires negotiating many variables at the same time; not the type of problem-solving or analytical skills most of us use daily to master job performance. Integration of strategy requires strategic thinking capabilities to produce a comprehensive and cohesive plan for long-range success.
Want to learn more about strategic thinking or perhaps develop your team’s strategic thinking capabilities.