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Strategic Planning: Be intentional with priorities

Strategic Planning: Be intentional with priorities


Mary SandQ. Why bother with strategic planning?   

A. Are you familiar with the carnival game, “Whack a Mole”? In this game, you hold a mallet while looking at a board with five holes. Each hole contains a mechanical mole ready to pop up in a random order. Whichever mole pops up, you try to hit it before it disappears. It’s exhausting, as the repetition leaves you with little satisfaction.   

Do you have days at work when you feel like all you’ve accomplished is responding to whatever challenges pop up? Do the same “moles” pop-up day after day?  It’s difficult to have forward momentum in an organization when you are trapped in the world of whack a mole.   

Establishing a direction is the primary reason you want to carve out time for strategic planning.  Without this, organizations simply survive the day and are in a constant state of reacting versus moving forward with intention.   

Without an agreed upon direction, your team is left to determine their own priorities. If everyone focuses on their own priorities, it’s difficult to gain momentum to move forward as an organization. Prioritizing efforts is another reason to conduct strategic planning. Every day, we all have more choices of what to do with our time than we have time to complete the tasks. The choices a mid-level leader makes may or may not support what you want to accomplish. If you want your team focused on choices that support a particular direction, then that direction has to be crystal clear to them.    

Lastly, strategic planning allows you to allocate resources, which may include dollars, FTEs, time, attention, equipment, etc. If you have an intentional direction with clearly stated priorities, then it becomes more apparent what you need to make all of this happen.   

Rather than whacking another mole, set yourself up for success with a strategic plan. 

Mary Sand, PhD, is owner/president of Sand Consulting. Reach her at 605.212.9374 or


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