Over the years, when it comes to business planning, I have found people (or businesses) generally fall within one of six groups…
The Sceptics – these people just do not buy into the whole idea of business planning and they wonder why the world is going past them.
The Un-Initiated – these people are just starting off with their business and are yet to understand that this is a critical aspect of having a business, but they would be open to it with the right support.
The Battlers – these people do not quite understand the importance of business planning, but are prepared to have a go.
The Theorists – these people know the importance of business planning but never do it.
The Apprentices – these people know the importance of business planning, but are not good at it.
The Master Practitioners – these people know the importance of business planning and execute it with precision.
Which group do you or your business, fall in to?
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
So why is it that for many, business planning seems to be quite abstract and not valued for them?
Possibly a reason for this is that the whole strategic business planning process can appear to be quite complex with a lot of terminology being used and many concepts overlapping with each other or come after or before each other, or are even contradictory.
For example, Vision versus Mission.
My preference is that Vision comes first as the ultimate “why” and the Mission the sets out to achieve the Vision. However sometimes when we are on a journey, we just don’t know what we are seeking, hence the Mission may precede the Vision.
“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.” Antoine de Saint Exupery
Another factor for this perception of business planning not being valued, is that strategic business planning tends to suggest you need assistance, maybe a consultant.
Well there is certainly value in having an independent third party to assist you in your planning, but if we recognise that strategic planning is a process with clear steps, then perhaps you can do it yourself – in fact I recommend that.
That’s why I have put together a 10 Step Strategic Business Planning Process to provide structure, as well as to align daily and weekly actions to your longer term goals and strategic vision.
I illustrate the ten steps in a way to create alignment all the way between Vision at the top, to Measurement at the bottom. That is, if you read it from top to bottom, each step provides the “how” in achieving the pre-ceding step. For example, “how are we going to achieve our Goals & Objectives is with our Strategies”. Also from bottom to top we can clarify the “why”. For example, “why are we doing these Tactics, Actions and Tasks is because we have these Strategies”.
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” Alan Lakein
So let us now expand on the 10 Step Strategic Business Planning Process…
Vision is the “what I see”.
Mission is “what I do”.
Values are “who I am and what I stand for”.
SWOT defines your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and the outputs provide insights for you to develop your Goals & Objectives.
Your Goals & Objectives are about the “what” and can be over a 3 to 10 year or more, time frame.
Strategies are about the “how” and focuses on the next 12 months and support your Goals & Objectives.
Tactics, Actions & Tasks is what you need to do on a quarterly, monthly and weekly basis to achieve your Strategies.
Execution Plan pulls altogether in one location visually, showing the journey or road map.
Measure is the monthly progress check points, the quarterly reviews and annual strategic planning session to re-set the plan commencing with the SWOT Analysis and repeating all the steps again.
Systems are about putting in place mechanisms, process, tools and technologies to embed the planning process into your business – it could be as simple as blocking time in your calendar for the next twelve months with all the key planning and review meetings.
“If you are failing to plan, you are planning to fail.” Tariq Siddique
But of course the last word must be left to the business management guru himself…
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” Peter Drucker