One of the most emblematic outputs of the dreaded strategic-planning process is the “hockey stick” forecast – the line that sails upwards on the graph after a brief early dip to account for up-front investment. These hockey sticks, confidently presented by executives pitching their new strategy, are easy to draw but they don’t score many goals.  What tends to happen in reality is that the strategy fails to meet the bold aspirations and is replaced by a new one. Over the years, the unrealised hockey-stick forecasts string together to produce what is both one of the ugliest and most common charts in strategy: the hairy back (yes, the chart below shows a real company’s performance).

One of the most emblematic outputs of the dreaded strategic-planning process is the “hockey stick” forecast – the line that sails upwards on the graph after a brief early dip to account for up-front investment. These hockey sticks, confidently presented by executives pitching their new strategy, are easy to draw but they don’t score many goals.

What tends to happen in reality is that the strategy fails to meet the bold aspirations and is replaced by a new one. Over the years, the unrealised hockey-stick forecasts string together to produce what is both one of the ugliest and most common charts in strategy: the hairy back (yes, the chart below shows a real company’s performance).