The Business Management Skill of Planning
Writing business plans … yuck! At least that is what most of my clients say. Some tell me it’s not important. Others tell me that when they write down goals they never achieve them. Still others … well, this whole post could be the excuses I hear on why leaders do not write business plans. Frankly, I think the business management skill of planning isn’t taught well, used often enough and isn’t when you want something quick and easy. Announcing that you want 20% growth isn’t a business plan. It’s merely a statement; it’s not even a goal. Remember, goals have three attributes. They have to be specific, measureable and have a timeline attached. In the above example, saying you want 20% growth in a specific product line by the end of the calendar year is now a goal. It still isn’t a plan, as the plan has to include how you are going to get there, what has to happen, what the metrics are along the way that tell you where you are on the road to reaching the goal, etc., etc.
Why are we so adverse (or afraid) of planning? Why do organizations not spend enough time teaching the business management skill of planning? Conversely, why do organizations write elaborate plans, only to shove them in a drawer till the next ‘planning season’ rolls around? If companies used planning as the tool for which it was intended – to create a map for the future of the company and how they are going to get there – they would derive enormous benefit from the planning process.
The document itself is not the value of planning. The value comes from the thought process, the strategizing, the involving of others in the direction or how-to-get-there part of the process.
This is year-end for many companies. Maybe this year you will rethink your planning process, or lack thereof, and see how to turn it into an experience that benefits not just the bottom line but all the people involved.