December 26, 2022

Overcoming Barriers to Strategic and Effective Planning

What Are The Barriers to Effective Planning and How to Overcome Them?

Planning plays an important role in management. Having the skills and resources for planning is essential to any brand or business venture's success in the market-beating the competition. Nevertheless, certain barriers to effective planning prove to be a roadblock.

explaining business challenges

Much planning and research go into developing the firm's vision and mission statements and discussing its long-term plans. As simple as planning may sound, many barriers cause a company to lose money and stagnate.

If you're wondering, what are the various steps that result in an effective planning process, you've come to the right place. This article will cover the barriers to effective planning and how to develop an effective project planning process for your organization. 

Ineffective Systems

Among the many operation challenges of planning, an ineffective system is a common barrier that plagues most organizations. 

People, technology, and process clarity are all important aspects of an effective organizational design. Many businesses have haphazard process management, which is why employees have difficulty doing their jobs well. Many organizations process invoices, handle customer complaints and approve engineering drawings more based on who does it and what day of the week it is done than on sound business reasoning. Whenever processes and roles are unclear, personal idiosyncrasies and political maneuvering take over. The right systems can allow you to create an effective business planning process better. 

Product defects and service problems are often caused by various factors, including malicious employees, machine breakdowns, and poor raw materials. Other problems can be attributed to systemic deficiencies in processes. Thus, despite its simplicity and low cost, mapping your business processes pays huge dividends regarding employee engagement and business efficiency. 

There are many barriers to planning, specifically its implementation, even if your team has done thorough research on the subject matter and the work-related tasks. IT infrastructure, office internet facilities, delegation and recording of tasks, and other systems are very much needed to accomplish desired business goals and objectives.

Resistance to Change

Adapting to change is difficult when resistance to it exists. Employees who are unwilling to adapt to organizational changes can be overt or covert. They can resist change in various ways, from publicly expressing their opposition to unknowingly resisting it through their language or actions. Even though there are an endless number of reasons why employees resist organizational change, here are the five most common ones.

Misaligned and Unclear Goals

There is a continual cycle of growth, then shrinkage and centralization, followed by decentralization in functions such as HR, Finance, and IT in both good and bad economies. As a result, they are reengineering, downsizing, outsourcing, or creating shared service organizations. It's one thing to ask them to increase responsiveness and another to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Most change efforts focused on support functions result in unintended negative consequences. Human resources, for instance, often perceives positive changes negatively by line leaders. 

discussing company goals and strategy

Attempting to improve functions without aligning them with the larger organization tends to hurt rather than help performance. Even though they value the contribution of the HR team assigned to them, they do not value the contribution of the function as a whole. Why? Line leaders cannot improve business results through the improvements HR makes to the function. Business performance is hurt rather than helped when functions try to improve without aligning with the organization as the primary goal.

Lack of Transparency and Communication

Planning becomes ineffective when communication between groups breaks down or does not exist. Undeveloped skills, rivalries, misunderstandings of the planning process, or excessive complexity within the planning group structure can cause poor communication. Business plans should clearly outline the current situation, goals, and objectives along with prioritized strategies and tactics so everyone involved can understand. Planning results in duplication of effort when people work at cross purposes without clear communication.

Resource Management

An effective strategic planning process begins with accurately allocating your resources that are aligned with your vision. A lack of resources can sometimes stymie an organization or company's overly ambitious plans. It is especially true if renovation or expansion of physical plants is involved in the planning process. It's much easier to create grand plans on paper than on bricks and mortar, so planners can easily lose track of the overall cost. 

Contingency Planning

It is possible to avoid 'crisis management' through proper contingency planning, as Peter F. Drucker has pointed out. In his words, "if a contingency occurs, the prepared organization can easily transition to the appropriate contingency plan rather than having to come up with a new plan on short notice.". In times of environmental turbulence, this type of planning is especially helpful. 

Impractical Strategies

Business strategies being planned and mapped out for application must have a rationale for the planning to be goal-oriented and effective. Many barriers to planning will arise if the strategies are impractical without a long-term vision or don't consider the needs and demands of the target market. Managers and team leaders should have a practical approach and consider measurable, scalable, and achievable strategies.

How to Make Planning More Effective

As a business owner, you can mitigate potential errors in planning by performing the following: 

1. Forecasting future events:

Management must make predictions when planning for the future. It is necessary to develop and maintain a system for accurately forecasting future events.

brainstorming and discussing strategy

2. Good Environment:

For plans to be implemented effectively, the organization should have an appropriate climate. For the plan to succeed, people at all levels of management should cooperate willingly.

3. Initiative & Involvement:

Management's initiative and lower-level management's involvement in the work are very important to successfully implementing the plans.

4. Motivation:

For a plan to be successful, it must provide motivation. Human behavior can be motivated by a clear and specific plan regarding its objective.

5. Effective communication:

It is important to communicate plans to all those involved. All managers should clearly understand the objectives, strategies, premises, and policies of the company. Policies and plans should be explained and interpreted by managers to their subordinates.

6. Flexibility in planning:

Due to the uncertainty of the future, planning should be flexible. Therefore, it should be capable of adapting itself when forced to change its direction by unexpected events. The losses caused by unexpected events could be minimized if plans are flexible.

Overcoming barriers to effective planning

You will be better able to address strategic planning barriers if you understand your organization. Despite the numerous barriers and methods for addressing them, here are a few ideas.

Provide Leadership

Strategic planning should be supported by the leadership of the organization. It gives a strong signal of the importance of the process, which often improves acceptance.


When there is uncertainty in the organization over strategic planning, explain what you will do, why you are doing it, how people will be involved, and the expected timelines. Furthermore, it is crucial to provide regular updates on the process and what has been accomplished. People will make up their information in the absence of information. Meetings, newsletters, town halls, and other forms of communication can be used in this process.

Manage The Change Process

A strategy's development is only the first step in the process. Managing the change process is equally important for implementing your strategy. Managing change effectively will not eliminate all concerns, but it will limit them to a tolerable level, allowing the organization to continue without significant productivity losses.

strategic and effective planning with the team

Reward Supportive Behavior

Identifying barriers to strategic planning is not enough. Additionally, you should reward behaviors that contribute to strategic planning. A unit head may meet with her staff to discuss backfilling positions so that as many staff as possible can participate in the strategic planning process when learning about the start of a new process.

No Time is Ever Perfect

The reality is that strategic planning is not a blank canvas, as you may think. There will always be other initiatives or information that isn't available, no matter when you do your strategic planning. Invest your time in strategy as long as the wheels won't fall off. If you constantly put off planning and changes that arise from it, your organization will suffer in the long run.

Elements of An Effective Planning Process

To define actions for implementation, we believe strongly in bringing teams together around an aligned objective, specific strategy, and goals. Team members who want to achieve desired results should have an execution plan for projects and initiatives. Every organization that has alignment has the following features of an effective planning process

What's Our Objective?

Identify what you want to accomplish. Team members should agree on what they are trying to accomplish. Your organization's objectives should be concise, quantifiable, time-bound, and supported by the organization's overall mission. All employees involved in the planning process must be aligned and understand their roles.

Are There Any Potential Roadblocks?

Identify the things you can control and the ones you can't control with your team. Making a list of these items can mitigate risk and allow you to discuss possible solutions to issues.

What Resources Can We Utilize?

Understanding what resources you have or will need is critical to executing a plan effectively. Prepare by identifying people, programs, and costs so you can get approvals and research your options.

effective planning in business

What Have We Learned From Previous Planning Sessions?

Always document and store after-action reviews, case studies, process docs, notes, and templates in one place if you do not currently have one. All of these items are saved on our Google shared drive in a "Center of Excellence folder." 

What Actions Do We Need To Take?

You and others on the team must execute a list of all actions before and during the "mission." At this point, you need to be specific about what, when, and who needs to be done. When should it be due, who should be consulted, who is accountable, and what is expected? 

How Might This Plan Fail?

It is important for every plan to be reviewed by an outside party. It is helpful to have a fresh set of eyes to help spot potential holes in the plan. The Red Team process involves individuals not involved in the planning process providing feedback and potential issues/concerns so that the planning team can develop contingencies. Creating a simple one-page template can keep meetings on track and guide the team to a successful outcome.

What Are Our Contingencies?

Identifying the elements outside of your control and creating contingency plans allows you to course-correct much more quickly. After you have finalized the plan, let your team execute it and ensure you debrief and document the lessons learned afterward. As a result, other team members will be able to learn from your wins and losses, thereby strengthening the organization as a whole. Organizing your company is like plotting its course on a map. Staying competitive requires knowing where you're going. 

At Universal Creative Solutions, we offer operations consulting to help you better plan your organization. We help you to achieve organizational alignment by ensuring that all levels of leadership are working towards the same vision set forth by the C-level executives. If you're interested in learning more, schedule a free consultation call

Our services

Leaders, Organizations, and Individuals come to Universal Creative Solutions with their WHY - their vision for the world, their company, their product, or their path in life.

We help them plan and achieve their WHY by coupling it with the HOW - a pathway to making that vision a reality. We clarify the concepts or objectives, break down the goals into the required assets, stakeholders, and key results, as well as provide or connect them to any needed resources and consulting services every step of the way.

Whether you need a structured plan or a dedicated partner to help you achieve your goals, Universal Creative Solutions is honored to work towards better solutions together.