Posted 10/8/2012 12:00 am
Updated 2 years ago
We all know we're supposed to plan. We've been taught about its importance and the techniques to accomplish it since grade school.
However, most of us really plan only for the shorter term. Sure, we may have plans in place for emergencies, but in our day-to-day business lives, our plans may only extend into today, next week and maybe next month.
In today's demanding world of competition and economic uncertainty, planning is essential for survival, no matter what your role or your company's size. Those in industries that have been slowed by recent economic challenges know all too well we can't fully predict what the future holds, so any confidence you have in your ability to plan probably has diminished.
To get ahead, though, you need to:
Focus: A plan must focus on a purpose. What are you trying to accomplish? Why? To what degree? Dream big and reach high, but be honest about what you're doing, why you're doing it and the available market.
The essence of purpose is that it brings strategy into focus. It is the key to defining your large-scale goals so you can define your purpose clearly.
Whether you're a business owner or an employee, you should know what you're trying to do and why. Everyone around you should know it too. This motivates everyone to reach higher than the present and achieve more. It also paves the way to clearer identification of goals.
Plan: Once you define your focus, you can begin to create a more strategic and future-focused plan. It should be goal-oriented, reaching further than today. Achieving business goals depends on your ability to make today's activities directly impact tomorrow's objectives. This plan is the first step toward business efficiency, growth or recovery.
Once you define your focus, you can plan the steps to accomplish your goals.
Execute: Next, seek to align today's actions with tomorrow's purpose and strategy. This enables you and your team to create a solid plan for execution that is designed to get you where you want to go, rather than just maintain. The execution plan should be clear and specific. Each item should be assigned to one owner. Due dates should accompany the plan.
When you finally make it through these times of economic uncertainty, remember that you won't fully resume success without a future-focused, well-executed plan. You have to live your days in pursuit of higher goals. Not only does the business need clear purpose, but the people running the business need to understand, embrace and thrive on that purpose.
For example, during Ken's 20 years in construction as a division branch manager, he experienced much change. Organizations that did well at managing transitions, and continue to do well, have used the principles of "Focus, Plan and Execute." Whether in prosperous times or during challenging ones, successful construction companies adjust by defining their demographics, understanding the correct price point and ensuring the proper infrastructure is developed (Focus).
Teams of subject matter experts should be brought together to research and design plans for growth. Attention should be paid to the needs of the construction company, subcontractors who supply products and services, architects, engineers and city planners (Plan).
Implementation is achieved in a controlled manner, allowing for constant reporting and measurements, thus ensuring necessary adjustments are made to avoid costly errors (Execute).
Regardless of industry or size of company, the use of the systematic and integrated disciplines of Focus, Plan and Execute helps all companies meet their goals.
(Ken and Patti Leith are managing partners of Edges Inc., a strategic planning and process efficiency firm based in Bentonville. They also own and operate e-Gauge Inc., a software services company specializing in talent management and strategic plan execution. Contact them at (479) 203-7198 or at Ken@GetEdges.com or Patti@GetEdges.com.)