By Bob Dodge
Planning is mysterious to many and perceived as unnecessary to many others. Whether it be a project plan or a strategic plan -- or really any kind of plan -- understanding the WHY, WHAT and HOW will help it make more sense and ultimately set a smart course to success.
When raising the topic of planning with my consulting clients, many respond like a deer in the headlights, overwhelmed by the very thought of it. I help to settle their souls and get them focused by telling them, “We are going on a trip… but DON’T start your car yet!”
When planning for the year ahead, not unlike a road trip, we first need to decide where we are going, who is going, what we want to do when we get there (or perhaps along the way) and then finally decide how we plan to get there. Do we need to take a big car? Clothes? Games for the kids in the backseat? Will we need to stop somewhere to eat or sleep?
By getting these things agreed to ahead of time, we avoid the inevitable, “Gosh, if I had known that, I would have…” regrets. Getting all parties aligned to the What and the How, ensures we are efficient in our journey, meaning we don’t waste any resources, we arrive on time and on budget.
My partner and I used to plan backwards from our end goal to ensure we neither missed a step nor wasted any effort. If we owed a client a deliverable, we would first agree on exactly what that deliverable was (the end result) and worked backwards with regard to the attributes of the deliverable, what must be considered to develop it, what information must be gathered in order to make decisions, what activities and resources must be involved and what, if anything, is not adding value.
Here at TAB, we plan by breaking Critical Success Factors into SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Responsible Party, Timebound), developing Strategies to reach the Goals, and planning SMART Actions and Tasks to execute those Strategies. Kinda’ sounds like determining the destination, deciding the critical aspects of our trip and then being smart about who comes with us, what we pack in the trunk and how we will arrive safely, on time and on budget.
Whether it be strategic planning or a cross country road trip, everyone appreciates a smooth ride.
Bob Dodge owns and operates The Alternative Board® (TAB) in Denver West. TAB helps forward-thinking business owners increase profitability and improve their lives by leveraging local business advisory boards, private business coaching and proprietary strategic services. Bob possesses the business acumen and a broad exposure to the vast array of opportunities and concerns that challenge business owners.