4 Magic Hacks to Increase Executive Strategic Planning Impact

Dr. Kevin Gazzara
6 min readApr 2, 2024


In the fast-paced world of business, where change is constant, and competition is fierce, strategic planning is often hailed as the compass that guides organizations toward success. However, a widespread issue persists: senior managers, who carry the responsibility of steering the ship, often find themselves entangled in day-to-day operations, leaving strategic planning on the backburner. This article aims to unravel the complexities surrounding why senior managers often fall short in dedicating sufficient time to strategic planning, and to provide recommendations to help correct this deficiency.

We surveyed 115 people on LinkedIn to find out how much time they thought senior managers should be spending on strategic planning and 69 senior managers who revealed the amount of time they are actually spending. The results were surprising.

As you can see, 69% of employees believe that senior managers should be spending more than 20% of their time on strategic planning. Yet only 56% of the senior managers actually do spend that much time. Even more alarming, 19% of the senior managers surveyed spend 10% or less of their time on strategic planning.

Culprits of Strategic Planning Deficiencies

1) The Urgency Conundrum

“By doing stuff is not the answer, it is by doing the right stuff” James Lanas — CEO at TeamPlayerHR

One of the paramount reasons behind the limited attention senior managers give to strategic planning is the relentless sense of urgency that permeates the corporate environment. Juggling immediate challenges, crisis resolution, and the pressure to meet short-term goals can create a tunnel vision that leaves little room for contemplation of the future.

Henry Mintzberg, in his seminal work on managerial roles, introduced the concept of the “management time-warp,” describing how managers become ensnared in the urgent at the expense of the important (Mintzberg, 1994). The urgency conundrum places strategic planning in direct competition with immediate concerns, often resulting in the latter taking precedence.

Priority setting is a cornerstone of effective leadership, and for senior managers, it is a skill that can significantly impact organizational success. The ability to discern and prioritize the important versus just the urgent tasks is crucial in navigating the complexities of modern business. Effective priority ensures that they allocate their time and resources judiciously, focusing on tasks that align with organizational goals. This strategic approach guards against burnout and ensures that energy is channeled into initiatives that drive the greatest impact.

2) Overemphasis on Tactical Execution

The prevailing culture in many organizations places a premium on tactical execution and quick wins, a culture that inadvertently downplays the importance of strategic planning. McKinsey & Company conducted a study that revealed executives are frequently rewarded and recognized for tackling immediate challenges, while strategic initiatives are seen as abstract, long-term, and challenging to measure (Bower & Gilbert, 2007). Consequently, senior managers, driven by the desire for immediate results and tangible outcomes, may perceive strategic planning as a secondary priority, diverting their focus away from the critical task of shaping the organization’s future.

3) Meeting Overload

“I’ve actually found that when I remove myself from the facility and go to an alternate setting it helps me to have a more effective strategy planning session.” Troy George — Plant Manager

In the fast-paced corporate landscape, the role of senior managers is crucial in steering organizations towards success. However, the constant barrage of meetings can hinder their productivity and strategic focus. Recognizing the importance of reducing the number of meetings for senior managers is paramount for optimizing their time and maximizing their impact.

Senior managers are responsible for making high-level decisions, formulating strategies, and ensuring the overall efficiency of their teams. Excessive meetings lead to time fragmentation, making it challenging for them to delve deeply into critical issues or engage in strategic thinking. By streamlining the meeting schedule, senior managers can allocate more uninterrupted time to strategic planning and thoughtful decision-making.

Furthermore, reducing the number of meetings can enhance employee autonomy and empowerment. When senior managers are not bogged down by constant meetings, they can create a more dynamic and agile work environment. This allows teams to take ownership of their projects, fostering innovation and creativity.

4) Inadequate Time Blocking

“Senior Managers need to block certain times on their calendar for strategic planning and to evaluate what has been done so far toward the strategy” Dr. Samuel Nkansah — CEO at Samaholdings ltd.

Time blocking is a productivity technique where specific blocks of time are dedicated to particular tasks or activities. This is a game-changer for senior managers navigating the demands of leadership. In the intricate dance of strategic planning, decision-making, and team management, time is a precious resource, and effective allocation is paramount.

For senior managers, each day brings a myriad of responsibilities. Time blocking allows them to structure their day with purpose, ensuring that essential tasks receive the attention they deserve. This method helps prevent the constant interruption of tasks by meetings or minor issues, fostering deep focus and sustained productivity.

Moreover, time blocking promotes proactive leadership. Senior managers should allocate specific time blocks for strategic thinking, innovation, and long-term planning. This ensures they are not solely caught up in the day-to-day operational aspects but are actively steering the organization towards its future goals. Time blocking is indispensable for senior managers striving to balance multiple responsibilities effectively. By structuring their days, weeks and months with intention, they can enhance productivity, foster continuous strategic thinking, and navigate the dynamic challenges of leadership with resilience and efficiency.


In the intricate tapestry of organizational management, the neglect of strategic planning by senior managers remains a pervasive challenge. The urgency trap, emphasis on tactical execution, lack of time blocking, and endless meetings collectively contribute to the phenomenon. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for organizations seeking to foster a culture that prioritizes long-term vision and strategic foresight. As businesses evolve, so too must the mindset of senior managers, acknowledging that dedicating time to strategic planning is an investment in the sustained success and resilience of the organization. Senior managers who stay in their comfort zone by continuing to excel in execution of their more tactical activities and not take the risk to venture into shifting their focus to strategic thinking are doomed to mediocrity at best.

Call to Action

Senior managers, your organization is depending on your ability to lead them into the future of your industry. Take a moment to reflect on each of the 4 culprits of strategic planning deficiencies to honestly reflect on how well you are tackling each one. Collaborate with an executive coach to create a plan and hold you accountable to address each of these culprits. Your organization will thank and reward you for the long-term success that is awaiting you.


Bower, J. L., & Gilbert, C. G. (2007). From Resource Allocation to Strategy. Harvard Business Review, 85(2), 97–104.

Mintzberg, H. (1994). Rounding Out the Manager’s Job. Sloan Management Review, 36(1), 11–26.

Special Thanks to: @JamesLanas, @Troy D George, and @Samuel Nkansah for their contribution to this article.

About the Author

Dr. Kevin Gazzara — is a senior partner and founder of Magna Leadership Solutions, based in Phoenix, Arizona. Kevin is an international speaker and recognized as a Management & Leadership Expert and an Executive Coach. He is the coauthor of “The Leader of OZ” www.leaderofoz.com. Kevin has been a professor at 6 Universities, developing and teaching programs to help others achieve their full potential. You can follow Kevin and Magna Leadership Solutions on:

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Thank you,

Dr. Kevin Gazzara Senior Partner and Certified Positive Intelligence & ICF Coach Magna Leadership Solutions LLC Kevin@MagnaLeadership.com or Kevin@CoachSultants.com



Dr. Kevin Gazzara

CEO of Magna Leadership Solutions, Certified ICF &Positive Intelligence Coach, Management Expert, Professor, Speaker, Author. Contact: Kevin@Magnaleadership.com