Ross Brindle

Most people don’t like buzzwords, although we all use them. At Nexight, our commitment to clear communication means we try to avoid buzzwords, instead opting to use plain English to describe the complex problems we work to solve.

But it’s not always easy. One area where buzzwords have become deeply entrenched is in strategic planning. It is almost impossible to talk about strategic planning without using words like vision, mission, goal, objective, challenge, opportunity, strategy, tactic, milestone, metric, and countless others. The problem is that there are no agreed-upon definitions for many of these terms, particularly working across different organizations as we so often do.

The result is that the strategic planning process can take days or weeks to get moving while the people debate what these terms mean. This frustrating experience is one reason why many people groan at the thought of strategic planning.

These terms, like most buzzwords, can be useful in shortening and streamlining discussions among people who already know and agree upon what they mean. Unlike some buzzwords like “bandwidth” or “leverage” that apply specific terms to new contexts, strategic planning terms are so commonly used that many of them do not even appear to be buzzwords. They are so familiar, yet their definitions are often vague.

So, let’s kill the buzzwords in strategic planning! Don’t let your strategic planning process go in circles debating vision vs. mission and strategies vs. tactics. Instead, try thinking about these questions:

  • How would we like others to describe our organization?
  • What problem are we trying to solve?
  • What opportunity are we trying to seize?
  • What actions do we need to take?
  • How will we know when the problem is solved? What information will we need to determine this?
  • When do we think we can solve the problem or capture the opportunity?
  • How will we measure progress between now and then?

Yes, your strategic plan will likely end up with things called vision, mission, goals, and the like. But by focusing first on the fundamental questions you are trying to answer with your plan before assigning terms as they suit your results and your organization, you will have the right conversations sooner and get people caring about the planning process.

If you still need help with your strategic planning effort, give me a call. We offer strategic planning, workshop design and meeting facilitation services that can get your planning process moving. Who knows, perhaps you can leverage your bandwidth to create synergy in your strategic planning process!