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Why Top-Performers are Excelling with Strategic Planning

Explore why top-performing organizations excel with strategic planning, focusing on accountability, value creation, and openness to feedback.

Why Top-Performers are Excelling with Strategic Planning by Don McDaniel, CEO of Canton & Company

I’ve shared my thoughts on the strategic paradox before – chronicling the almost blind loyalty companies have to strategic planning, while not expecting much in return. The data are startling; while over 80% of all organizations regularly pursue some form of long-term planning, only about 10% see the work through to completion. In a world where rigorous execution increasingly separates the winners from the losers, the absence of accountability is amazing, and a big reason why strategic planning has gotten a bad rap. 

However, as the data suggests, there remains a committed subset of successful organizations that routinely pursue strategic planning (and doing) with accountability, alignment, urgency, rigor, and eye towards execution. 

Throughout my 30+ years in the industry, and hundreds of strategic planning engagements, I’ve observed several key traits among high-performers that I believe enable them to maximize their organizational strategies and execute for real results.

1. High-performers hold everyone accountable

While intentions are good for most there remains a BIG gap between a center’s planning & their doing (Canton refers to this as the “Plan/Do” Ratio, or simply what the team says vs. what they achieve).  
Successful organizations bridge this gap by instilling a culture of accountability and prioritization. High-performing leaders ensure that every team member is held responsible, and they establish clear expectations for outcomes. A regular cycle of checks and balances is crucial in maintaining this accountability, ensuring that strategic plans are not merely documents but living, breathing innovation roadmaps. 


The Plan/Do Ratio - What the team says vs. What they achieve.

2. They maintain a relentless focus on value creation

We continue to find that the best performers utilize strategic planning not only to satisfy a requirement but as a means to systematically generate value, year-over-year.  Value creation is not just a one-time goal but an ongoing commitment. High-performing organizations constantly evaluate the relevance and impact of their strategic initiatives. They align every action with the overall goal of creating value for customers, employees, investors, and other stakeholders. 


 3. They’re not afraid to call their baby ugly

It’s never a pleasant experience, but our most successful clients have always been willing to receive feedback on their organizational strategy. As they say, light is the best disinfectant and great planning is exposed to many inside and outside the organization. 

Openness to criticism and a willingness to reevaluate strategies are trademarks of high-performing organizations. They recognize that constructive feedback, even if uncomfortable, is an invaluable resource for improvement. By acknowledging weaknesses and addressing them head-on, these organizations refine their strategies to withstand the tests of a dynamic business environment. 

Finally, successful organizations create a continuous “value loop”- the discovery, planning, execution, measurement, and monitoring and even course correction should never stop, it just gets reinforced, improved, sometimes disabused, pivoted – and the only way to ensure this virtuous cycle is to ensure accountability, prioritization, tracking and of course lots of sunlight.  

Stay connected with Canton for the latest updates 

At Canton we think we have learned, the hard way, how to build a better value creation mousetrap, a cultural adaptation that is data-driven, brutally honest, engaging and one that smoothly and seemingly transitions from “Plan to Do.”  More on this thinking can be found here at our new Powering Strategy Playbook part science, part art, both a framework and workflow, a symbiotic approach to creating more value. I encourage you to review it and welcome your thoughts and feedback. You can also subscribe to our newsletter below for the latest news and updates. 


Don McDaniel

Don McDaniel

CEO | Healthcare visionary, master health economist, serial entrepreneur, and lover of a good debate


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