The era of strategic planning is over

During the more than twenty years I have worked in and with associations, it is my guess that organizations throughout our community have committed millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of hours of staff and voluntary leader time to generate tens of thousands of pages of strategic plans and related documents. I have been thinking about the net impact of this extraordinary investment of time, money and effort, and while there are some exceptions, here is a brief list of the outcomes I see:

  • Associations questioning their own relevance.*
  • Associations struggling to explain the value of membership.
  • Associations struggling with declining business models.
  • Associations unable to generate organic growth through innovation.

*Relevance is still a losing argument, but the conversation is clearly happening.

Not exactly an impressive track record. Perhaps it is time to admit that the era of strategic planning is over. And not because I say so, but because strategic planning has failed associations spectacularly. Can we please move on now?

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Jeff De Cagna

Jeff De Cagna is chief strategist and founder of Principled Innovation LLC, and a contrarian thinker on strategy, business models, governing and the future of associations.

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