As inevitably as the seasons change, thousands of companies every year shut their doors because of the leadership team’s failure to develop a written plan and then implement it. Tens of thousands of other companies fail to reach their full potential for the same reason. Planning is more important than it seems.
Knowing this, why do so many leaders resist the planning process?
“Planning is an unnatural process,” said Sir John Harvey-Jones, Chairman of Britain’s Imperial Chemical Industries. “It is much more fun to do something. The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.”
If you’ve not planned at all or had difficulty with implementation, your initial approach should be to develop an annual plan. Focus on affirming values and direction, establishing priorities and translating those priorities into objectives with action items, responsibilities and deadlines. While somewhat tactical, the primary value is derived from getting your leaders focused on the most important operational issues that they and their teams will address over the next 12 months to improve performance.
From the 150 planning sessions I’ve facilitated, I always see lots of low-hanging fruit organizations can harvest from this process.
Once you’ve picked the easy stuff, you’re ready to develop and implement a strategic plan that focuses on new opportunities. Where are the gaps or opportunities in our product or service offerings? What emerging patterns have we identified that we may be able to capitalize upon? Are there any competitors or up-and-coming or struggling businesses that we should look at acquiring?
An organization without a plan has a limited future.
To dive even deeper into the topic of accountability, I invite you to purchase a copy of my bestselling book, “Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture.”
Business schools teach case studies. Hollywood blockbusters are inspired by true events.
Exceptional leaders are students of history. Decision-making comes with the territory.