Have you got a plan?

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

The celebrations are over and a new year has just begun. Will you still be delivering on your new year resolutions at the end of January? 

We live busy lives with many distractions but how much is our failure down to not having a clear plan on how we are going to reach our goals? Business planning is no different. Without a clear roadmap you are unlikely to deliver against your longer term business goals.

What is your plan for?

Are you creating an annual plan or a longer term strategic roadmap? Is it for investment or for internal use? Be clear about what you want the output to look like and make it accessible. Adopt an agile approach so you achieve some short-term gains whilst working on your larger goals. Gone are the days of voluminous business plans gathering dust on a shelf. How much time and energy do you want to commit to the process? Who needs to be involved? What are your critical success factors? Do you need some external support?

 What is your current situation?

Remember any plan starts with your current reality.  Going from A to B requires knowledge of what A looks like. Look at your external environment and see what is happening in your market. It is all too easy to put on our blinkers and forget that our customers have 24/7 access to your competitors. When was the last time you asked your customers for their feedback? Are you innovating or just trying to keep up? Remember In the digital age ‘disruptors’ move fast.

 ‘The only source of knowledge is experience’

Take some time to reflect on the last twelve months and learn from the experience. What went well and not so well? How did the business perform against its financial goals? How can you capitalise on your strengths? Where are your capability gaps? Do it as a team – it can be a cathartic exercise.

 Limit the uncertainty

 Be clear on your vision, mission and values, identify your overall financial and strategic goals. Then be agile and flexible in their execution to meet the ever-changing needs of your customers. The tactics and actions will change but ensure they are based on clear and considered objectives.

The implementation of the plan

 The business planning process is only the beginning. Getting the rest of the business engaged and then focusing on the doing is the critical part. Too many plans aren’t translated into detailed roadmaps that start to breakdown the business goals into simple tasks done by teams of people in the real world. Remember that business strategy and planning is of little interest to many who execute the plan. Make it simple, relevant and most important of all, accessible.

 What gets measured gets done

What is your performance management system? Having taken the time to create a plan measuring progress is crucial. What makes good teams great? They are clear about their critical success factors (CSF) and are totally focused on finding ways to improve performance. David Brailsford, ex head of British cycling called it the ‘aggregation of marginal gains.’ Understand your CSF, find a way to measure them, make it visible and turn on your OCD!

 Getting an external view

It is difficult to view your business from the outside. Use your network. Broaden your base of trusted advisors. Talk to your customers. Do you have a Board? Have you got the right skills and attitudes on your Board? Are people telling you what you want or need to hear? A trusted and experienced ‘friend’ is a real find in the business world. And remember… ‘Vison without action is merely a dream, action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.’ Make sure yours is clear and you have a plan to realise it.