Developing a Strategic Plan: How to Avoid Common Stumbling Blocks



You’ve made the decision to write a strategic plan. You’ve assembled your team, invested the time, done the analyses and have a document in the works. Congratulations! You’re on your way to vaulting your business ahead of the competition.

Even with the best of intentions, obstacles can still arise. Here are seven common stumbling blocks to watch out for—and the steps to take to correct (or avoid) them:

Stumbling Block #1: The wrong view of where you are today.
Corrective Step #1: Make sure you perform both external and internal audits to get a complete picture of the competitive market and your true place in it, as well as your real—not perceived—strengths. Let numbers be your guide.

Stumbling Block #2: Strategies that don’t align with objectives.
Corrective Step #2: Make sure your strategies serve your goals. For example, it’s not enough that your production team wants new equipment to increase capacity—it only counts if your goal is to increase capacity.

Stumbling Block #3: Lack of accountability.
Corrective Step #3: Check your team members. Is every one of them prepared to take responsibility for their sector? Are all areas represented? If there’s a department or division that is going to be responsible for executing strategy against an objective, there must be a contributing member on the team prepared to be vested with this knowledge and responsibility.

Stumbling Block #4: Goals that can’t be measured or quantified.
Corrective Step #4: Every goal, every strategy in support of an objective, needs to have a number by it—even if it isn’t one that is considered quantifiable. Figure out the appropriate, measurable unit for each objective, and then devise a test for it, if necessary.

Stumbling Block #5: Strategies that don’t work across divisions or departments.
Corrective Step # 5: Construct your goals so departments work with, not against, each other. For example, if your strategy is to increase capacity for engineering to upgrade systems, but the purchasing department’s goal is to avoid incurring new expenses, the divisions have been set with cross-purposes.

Stumbling Block #6: The blame game.
Corrective Step #6: No business owner or manager wants to hear, “We couldn’t get it accomplished because they fell behind.” Sometimes, this can be avoided by carefully constructing strategies across departments to reach concrete goals. Quite often, departments that depend on each other to attain certain objectives will have to develop smaller, finite cross-departmental plans to make the larger objective attainable. Remember, they should be developed early on.

Stumbling Block #7: Not using your road map.
Corrective Step #7: What’s the most important thing about your strategic plan? It’s usable! Your strategic plan should begin to look like a well used road map. Chart your progress against it, measure your goals and revise when necessary. The last place your strategic plan needs to be is in a binder on a shelf. Schedule group reviews at least quarterly to see if all responsible and accountable team members are on the same page.

By being aware of these common challenges, and creating tactics that avoid or overcome them, you’ve given your strategic plan much higher odds of succeeding. For help in designing a plan that will move your business forward, contact

In other news: The Center is pleased to host the following business operations event in April:

EXPLORE: Enhancing Business Operations
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
8:30 AM – 10:30 AM
45501 Helm St.
Plymouth, MI

For more information, or to register, click here.


George Singos, Business Leader Advisor
George Singos is a Business Leader Advisor for The Center. He has more than 30 years of manufacturing experience in various capacities. For the past 20 years he has focused on sales and marketing management both domestically and internationally. To read George’s full bio, visit click here.



Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: growth, Sales & Marketing