My experience suggests that most small business owners and managers resist planning because of time limits and a tendency towards a reactive human nature. Many claim that today’s environment changes too often and too quickly. Despite the disruptive and unrelenting pace of change, most of our clients come to agree that planning remains an important function in the workplace. A good plan provides a framework for organizing company resources, and it provides direction for employees on how they can help the company fulfill its strategic goals.
For small businesses, we encourage an annual investment in a 1-Page Business Plan that will bring into focus the broad strategic direction of the business, typically over a 1-to-3-year term. The 1-Page Business Plan gives teams and people a snapshot view of what you need them to do, and why. If communicated effectively, you won’t spend as much time redirecting well-intentioned people, and they won’t have to wonder about what to do. The Plan gives definition to the shape and direction of change in the pursuit of the company’s goals.
It is important to recognize that the value of planning is limited by the effectiveness of your communication and keeping your team informed and focused on getting the right things done. Action drives value in business – your ability to discern the right strategies and to align the collective activities of your team will ultimately influence the return on an investment in planning and, most importantly, the value of your business.
Here are some simple steps that will help owners and their management teams leverage their plans to get great results.
Selectively leverage new ideas from inside and outside the company to drive continuous improvement.
Lean on the collective skills and capacity of the team to get things done. All team members should have goals and must have an individual stake in achieving results.
Communicate goals frequently to maintain focus. Team members should have a clear understanding of the company’s goals and the actions they need to take to achieve them. Use quarterly planning sessions to maintain clarity and monthly meetings to keep the team focused.
All team members should have job descriptions and personal objectives that are well aligned to the strategic goals and activities of the business.
Monitor results against goals and maintain a system of accountability to assure that people are focused and getting the right things done.
Consult with your Coach about purposeful planning and execution for your business.