Killing the Sacred Cow

I am catching up on reading–just getting to the March issue of Associations Now–and in the CEO to CEO section in the back, they ask the question "If you could slay any sacred cow at your organization, what would it be?" Nelson Fabian of the National Environmental Health Association has a super answer, so I’ll quote it in its entirety:

Strategic planning. Most new board members come in assuming that such an activity is necessary. At every new board member orientation, I challenge this assumption (and sacred cow). In my opinion, the very idea that in a fast-paced world as ours, one can predict the future and then build plans, staff performance measures, and public postures around it is a total illusion. Yet, I see many associations running to the sacred altar of strategic planning and signing blank checks for consultants to lead them to the Promised Land. We prize strategic thinking, strategic directions, strategic interests, and the like, but I’m proud to say that we have no strategic plan. There are some good books out there that have helped us to think this way: The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning [by Henry Mintzberg (Free Press, 1994)] and Leadership and the New Science [by Margaret Wheatley (Berrett-Koehler, 2006)] are two. Most importantly, our association is growing and is fun for almost everyone involved.