Is fear of planning stopping your company from reaching its potential?
It’s never a great idea to set off on a journey without some kind of a map to guide you. A good map stops you making bad decisions, taking wrong turns and wasting time and money.
Yet too often CEOS, founders and senior executives set out to try and make their business a success and attract investment without any kind of formal plan mapping out their future.
For some organisations the word ‘plan’ seems to be a four-letter word. But without a plan to follow and measure your organisation’s progress against, your company is effectively travelling blind.
In this blog we examine why making a map for the future of your business is essential for helping your business grow efficiently. We also take a look at some of the common reasons businesses give for not making formal plans and why your business shouldn’t fall into that trap.
Fear of planning
In my experience there are three popular reasons people offer for not having a formal plan in place:
They don’t have time
They never made plans before and the business has done well so far
It’s just more paperwork
But when you dig under the surface, the above excuses are usually just fronts for a far simpler reason so many fail to make plans: fear. It’s fear of sitting down and putting targets in place and fear of being held to account if that plan doesn’t come to fruition.
These fears are understandable, but they are also misguided and ultimately damaging to the future of a business.
Start small and build up
There’s a misconception that creating a plan involves months of work and hundreds of pages of jargon. But that isn’t the case. A good plan does not have to look like War and Peace. Planning is essentially simply putting down in writing the who, what, where, why and how for your business.
For leaders who find it hard to sit down and plan it’s okay to start small. A plan for one quarter – or even a month – is better than no plan at all. Even a one-page document setting out key goals, listing who is responsible and setting out a time frame for actions to be completed can have a surprising effect on productivity.
Over time plans can extend to cover longer time periods and get more detailed as and when needed. But forming the habit of making plans will only have a positive impact on your business.
Saying you ‘don’t have the time’ is ultimately flawed reasoning. Because without direction and focus an organisation will inevitably lose even more time (and money) in the long run on initiatives and processes that won’t get results or lead them down the wrong path.
Everyone can make a plan
Lack of planning isn’t due to senior leaders lacking vision or intelligence. Far from it. But often leaders feel that detailed or formal planning is a task for others.
No manager or leader is too important that they cannot pen a plan or be heavily involved in one’s creation. What’s more, plans that come from respected senior management and clearly outline what a company wants to achieve can really aid internal communication.
Employees always feel better knowing what the company’s strategy is and making plans is a great way to ensure objectives cascade down into the wider business. Communicating your plans will help bring consistency into the business and energise your teams.
Plans are flexible, not rigid
Not even the most efficient business will hit every objective in their plan. The real world doesn’t run that smoothly. But this is not a reason to not make a plan. Plans should be seen as guiding principles that help you focus and avoid surprises.
A plan gives you benchmarks to check progress against. When you excel and succeed above your expectations this generates an immense amount of positive energy in your organisation.
If you fall short you have something to get your teeth into to try and analyse why and fix going forward. If you aren’t planning you won’t even know if you have failed to hit your potential.
And this is the danger that many leaders who say ‘I’ve never needed a plan before’ fail to recognise. In reality, they are unable to accurately measure performance. It’s possible a company is content with 50 sales a month, not realising that with a few tweaks here and there in their practices and processes, they could be making 100 sales.
So if your company is travelling without a map to guide it, pull over and start drawing one up. If not, don’t be surprised if you end up continually wondering when you’ll arrive at your destination.