“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
What is Planning?
A basic management function involving formulation of one or more detailed plans to achieve optimum balance of needs or demands with the available resources. The planning process*:
(1) identifies the goals or objectives to be achieved,
(2) formulates strategies to achieve them,
(3) arranges or creates the means required
(4) implements, directs, and monitors all steps in their proper sequence.
Planning can be a scary word for many business owners. After all, it never takes place in a vacuum. We need to consider and monitor the many outside forces over which we have little or no control: the local, national and international economy; political decisions; changes to laws and regulations; the arrival of new competitors; even the outbreak of a regional conflict half a world away. All of us, even those who do this for a living, are staring into crystal balls that are cloudy at best. And yet, an imperfect plan is far better than no plan at all.
In order to plan properly, a written strategic plan should be developed that includes the Vision, Mission, Values, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics, Actions and Tasks. Each of these levels of planning is necessary to be effective and to be able to implement the plan successfully. The plan needs to be created with your entire executive team in order to obtain buy-in and alignment with the individuals and departments that will be taking the steps to fulfill the plan.
When facilitating the planning process, typically done by an outside facilitator like ECA, several questions must be asked of the team. Who will be involved? What is the current status of the situation or organization? What are we going to do and why? When will the plan and activities start and end? How will we measure our success? Where will the planning take place? How will we accomplish the tasks, actions, tactics, strategies and objectives? What resources are available?
The Army Handbook of 1973 addresses two key questions that must be asked when planning:
-What are all the ingredients necessary for its successful execution?
-What are all the possible forces or events that could hinder or destroy it?
Too often, when ideas or plans are conceived, they are not clearly written out with specific timelines or accountability assignments, and rarely are the potential obstacles stated and how these might be overcome during the planning process.
If you’ve put off your business planning until now, it’s not too late. If you’re feeling hesitant or overwhelmed, feel free to reach out any time. A simple conversation might be all it takes to put you on the path to performing higher.