Articles

The value of strategic planning

King Richard III wandered fearfully around the battlefield looking in vain for a horse that he felt sure was all he needed to save his kingdom. The fact that he didn't find one meant for sure that he was not in Osage County, Oklahoma. 

You see, Congress enacted a law in 1971 protecting wild horses and burros that roam patches of public land in ten Western states, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently has rented 60 private ranches to store and protect them. The cost is $49 million a year, which is 66% of the annual budget, and this is expected to grow to $1 billion a year over the natural life of the herds. The ranches have room for approximately 27,000 horses that are now inhabited by 77,000 of them. 

The land is being severely over-grazed and this is a financial and ecological disaster that is getting worse every year, but the BLM cannot break its cycle of saving and storing horses because it is too busy saving and storing horses.  

Last September the BLM's nine member advisory board voted 8 to 1 to start killing the horses that it was saving and storing. As you can imagine, the public outcry was so huge that they quickly said that they had no intention of killing any horses, even though Federal law specifically allows them to do so. People argued, perhaps rightly so, that cattle outnumber horses 10 to 1, and reducing the horses would simply enable ranchers to practice overgrazing at unsustainable levels. 

At the root of all of this is the fact that wolves and mountain lions were systematically eliminated because they were attacking and killing the horses. Now, most agree that the only solution to the whole problem is to bring them back so that they will attack and kill horses and burros that we are currently saving and storing. You cannot make stuff like this up.

There is an old saying that if you are in a deep hole, stop digging. 

I write to you about this sad tale because it is a pretty good example of strategic planning that has gone very wrong. Or more to the point, a great case of no strategic planning at all. 

We can all learn by observing others. This is now the end of 2016, and if you have not done your strategic planning for 2017, this would be a great time to start. There is time yet to get it done. Plenty of examples are out there that you can also learn from. Kodak invented the digital camera and then shelved it because they were fearful it would hurt their film business. Yup. Bankruptcy followed. 

Click on the link below for tips on strategic planning and what all should be included in your 2017 business plan. Try not to dig the hole any deeper. 

In the meantime, if you have any heart at all, please adopt at least 100 horses. They need a home! 

My very best to you for a great and joyous holiday season!

Planning notes

Tracy Bech