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Planning is the recipe, but you actually have to cook if you don't want to starve


Business strategy, business planning, change mgmt., and tasteless meatloaf

As business consultants, we've seen problems at both ends of the equation. Some organizations create thoughtful, compelling business plans, but lack the discipline to execute against the plan. They create elaborate, detailed recipes that adopt a complexity only a few highly skilled cooks can follow. While other groups are all about organizational motion even at the cost of being ineffective.

These action-needy actors don't see value in a recipe and prefer to 'wing-it' in an effort the expedite outcome realization...even if that means creating a dry, tasteless meatloaf. No matter which end of the pendulum you sit, the best results are realized through the incorporation of both efforts. The solution is simple, but the culture change is often difficult. We find that our greatest value to clients isn't really in problem identification, but as the change agent implementing the organizational change.

Planning – The First Step

Businesses plan in a variety of ways. Obviously, some businesses don’t plan at all. Assuming some planning takes place, it might start with a basic business plan, a more detailed strategic plan, or a SWOT analysis highlighting the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a business.

The planning process should incorporate the internal resources or lack of resources in a business aligned with the business’ goals and answer the question, “How are the goals going to be met?” Some planning might be aimed at accomplishing short-terms goals while others fall into the medium to long-term range.

Planning will differ from business to business and will even be different within the same business depending on where the business is in its life cycle and what goals need to be accomplished. This process might involve a number of factors that affect the business…marketing, finance, equipment, technology, facilities, expansion, etc.

The best plan is written with specific steps on how certain goals will be accomplished. The various steps should detail specific responsibilities for each person involved, but the process does not end with a simple written plan.

Execution – A Crucial Second Step

While the planning phase is both important and difficult at times, the execution phase is the “make or break” time. The best written business plans are ineffective if not executed properly or not executed at all.

Good plans will detail step-by-step the responsibilities of each individual, but it is up to the business owner or management team to ensure that designated tasks are performed on schedule, as required, and are measurable. Without scheduled progress reports, it is not possible to gauge if plans are being executed and accomplished as intended.

Planning rarely involves only one function and one individual but usually is a series of interrelated functions with various individuals contributing their efforts and talents. The synergy of these functions being performed simultaneously creates positive outcomes.

One Without the Other

So, it is quite evident that plans and execution go together. One cannot work without the other. The best plans lying dormant with no execution provides no constructive results for a business. Likewise, making quick and/or uninformed decisions without proper forethought and planning can lead to negative or even disastrous results.

Operational review, planning, revisions, more planning, and finally execution are essential elements that are major factors contributing to the growth and success of any business. As I've mentioned in past articles, it's the planning activities rather than the plan that provide value. A rush to published the physical plan misses the point. Fundamentals of planning and execution remain unchanged whether a business is small or large.

Success or Failure

It is the combination of both appropriate planning and execution that can be the difference between success and failure. Although a business can certainly be successful without planning and execution, the odds of success are much greater for those businesses that understand the importance of the interaction of these two very important business influencers.

OnTarget Strategy is a full-service business management and marketing consultancy based in Boulder, CO with a customer base throughout Boulder, Denver, Colorado and the U.S.. We like to focus on a strong client-consultant partnership that extends from initial solution identification to resolution completion.


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