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A New Year - A New Business Plan

Planning is about having a map to where you want to go. While it is easy to say where you want to go, it is harder to specify what you have to do to get there and predict how much time it will really take to get there. This is why great strategists are so rare and so valued in the marketplace. They don’t just articulate, they don’t just draw you a picture, they make it come alive!! And this is one reason a lot of big consultancies are being partially paid on the implementation of the plan. So as you go into the New Year (2022) and we face another year of unpredictable challenges, if you are a person of influence – what type of organisational planning do you do?

When it comes to businesses there are three types or organisations that plan:

Type 1: Clueless or Follow-the Herd

It worked so far so let’s push for more of the same: These organizations are very sales driven. They will never think of submitting an annual budget less than the previous year. They push and call these “Stretch goals”. Sure employees need to be supermen and superwomen, which means do more for less. Sometimes they are lucky, markets grow and they reap the benefits and so do the people in the organisation. This is accidental – by being in the right place at the right time. But the problem is when things go bad, the people involved never had the capability so it becomes a blame game. It becomes about "covering our footsteps" and "let's jump ship". This is an organisation mired in mistrust, limited growth opportunities, and no long-term continuity (always throw out the old and begin anew). They suffer from “Meeting-itis,” a chronic condition of an overdose of meetings, where everything gets discussed and recorded in detail but nothing gets done! Unfortunately these organisations make up a majority of the market place!

Type 2: Creative Adapter

For these organisations, every day is a challenge. They get up and begin with “lets see where we are going and what we can do”! These organisations are normally early start-ups with great ambition and not too much baggage. They honestly don’t know what works and so are open to experimentation. Each day is one of exploration. They have lean mean teams where everyone can do a little of everyone else’s job and they are work-a-holics. While this is great in the early years and maybe even successful; for more mature firms this can be an issue especially if this is the cultural norm.The critical issue for these firms is replication. If there is too much experimentation AND they don’t know what works- they DO NOT know what succeeds and WHY. They also are so lean and mean that they don’t have the time to mentor and train. This may lead to issues in governance when things grow too quickly as the processes are not put in place. This can limit scale and at some time the energy in the organisation runs out. It flat-lines.

Type 3: The Strategists

These companies have foresight and plan. These are my favourite companies. They have a long term trajectory of sales and profits but more importantly, they plan for resources and identify necessary conditions required to achieve the plan. They plan not just for the next year but they look into the future, 5-10 years in advance. Hence they know how to commit to resources NOW. They don’t follow the “Lets hire when the sales come in”. They hire for the sales to come in. They don’t wait for the market to grow, they grow the market. Their culture is based on communication, collaborate and co-ordinatation. These companies embrace management principles of effectively and efficiently. It’s not about how much time you spend in the office, how many hours you clock, or when your boss leaves, but how much work you get done and how effectively. It is not always about the paperwork to make employees “earn” their salary, it is about paying to use talent and hence optimising their role of contributing to the organisation. It is about taking risks and accepting the fallouts of the consequences. It is about being open as diversity of people and ideas improves plans! It is about rewarding great mentors (as opposed to rewarding fault finders). They are human-centric (they put people at the heart of the business plan - employees, customers, investors).

I hope you are a Type 3 planner, and if not, perhaps this New Year that is where you will aim to be. It takes great courage to lead and do good well. Times are difficult but a great leader will shine through wherever they are planted.

So wish you all a wonderful New Year and may this year be one where as one world we work towards creating a positive change in the 7+ billion people on this planet we call home.

[This is an older article of mine from 31 December 2014: a-new-year-new-business-plan]

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