How far out should strategic plans go?

In an Agile approach to strategic planning, we work from two research supported principles:

  1. The depth of our passion is equal to the length of our vision
  2. Dreams are not locations to reach in an unknowable future but rather lenses through which to better see new possibilities in the present

These principles support going out as far as we want to go in envisioning the future we would love to see possible.

In the Industrial Era where it was common for people in organizations to believe in a more predictable future, planning was based on the assumptive speculations of projections. This practice has lost relevance in the current Information Era when the half-life of expert information is measures in 6-12 months in contrast to the previous era where it was often more 6-12 years.

We're moving away from planning being inspired by the speculative question of what we think will happen in the unknowable future and what we should do about it to the question of what would we love to see possible and what can we do about it.

This radical shift dramatically reduces the risks of taking action in a world of unprecedented complexity, connectivity and uncertainty. It supports our practice of going out at least one generation of 20 years. This practice is also powerful because it causes people to dream and act with more courage and interest in the whole than they do when they keep their vision of the future constrained to the near term of the next couple years.