The Planning-Execution Gap is a phenomenon that rattles almost every organization. The gap comes in all shapes and sizes, but there are important similarities, and you will usually hear people saying things like this:
- “We have a clear strategy, but we just can’t seem to execute.”
- “We’ve been dealing with this issue for a long time, but we just can’t overcome it.”
- “Only the ED understands everything that’s going on around here.”
- “We try to be all things to to all people, and everything seems like a priority – but we never get anything done.”
A big challenge when leading your association through business planning, is bridging the gap between strategy and execution.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of helping your organization’s leaders articulate a nice strategy, but that doesn’t mean it can or will be executed. Many organizations will have a sound strategy at one end of the planning spectrum, and good projects and actions at the other, but the two just do not connect.
The participants in your planning process are human. Sure they would love it if they could execute their plans to move the business forward, but it takes hard work and many don’t really want to make the necessary changes to close the gap.
As a result, many organizations live with the Planning Gap because it is easier to “do” business planning once a year, and forget about it. Everyone seems surprised that very little actually got accomplished in the following year, then justify the shortcomings in a variety of ways, and repeat the process over again.