As we continue identifying competencies needed for effective business planning, it’s important to highlight the importance of planning itself. A solid, well-developed plan enables you to meet your annual goals and be a success. As the saying goes: a goal without a plan is just a wish.
As previously mentioned in my recent BLOGS, vision, innovative thinking and futuristic thinking are essential skills. Skills that enable you to guide your business, lead others and create annual plans. Annual planning, done correctly takes time. For example, you may have a brainstorming session with your team. As a result, you end up with several ideas that have potential to grow the business. Vetting the ideas, creating goal statements, determining tactics and deciding who is responsible for what takes discipline and persistence. If you’re looking to make meaningful changes in the business, taking time to develop a plan is the best thing you can do.
Why you need a plan
Consider this, when you plan to visit a city you’ve never been before, you’d plan your route. Why? Because without one, you might not find your destination. Without a plan, the route you take probably won’t be optimal and the overall experience stressful. This same idea applies in business. Implementing strategic changes without a plan can create confusion and disorganization for leaders and employees. This leads to confusion and morale problems. Without a solid, well-developed, plan it’s very possible that the changes for the greater good of the business may not materialize.
Characteristics of a good plan are:
- Clearly defined objectives– A broad goal such as “cost reduction” is not useful. You need to include more specificity like, “reduce operating costs by 8% in HR, Marketing and Finance”.
- Simple– Can it be comprehended by all employees and easily acted upon?
- Measurable– Use metrics to measure achievement of your goals. You can also use these metrics to analyze improvement over the previous method or time period.
- Flexible– If future business results don’t unfold as anticipated, make sure your plan can be adapted based on the current constraints.
- Time-Bound– Know whether your desired goal is to be achieved in the long-term (by the end of the year) or short-term (within 5 months). Set milestone dates to enable completion of your goals. .
- Comprehensive– Use the Congruence Model to discover what effect your plan will have on other aspects of the business. If necessary, make adjustments to mitigate negative effects.
Developing a comprehensive plan can be challenge. If you need assistance developing and implementing a plan to reach your goals for the upcoming year, contact me.