Elements of the "Perfect Plan"
So, by God’s design, I am a planner. I plan just about everything – when I’m going to wake up, when I’m going work out, how I’m going to pay for my kids’ college, what I’m going to pay for getting pine straw thrown in my backyard. I could go on and on, but you get the point. It drives the people I’m closest to a little nuts at times. Heck, it drives me a little nuts at times.
I distinctly recall an incident early in my marriage when we had a goldfish pond in the backyard that had gotten overgrown with algae. My wife wanted to clean it and, like most planners do, I started researching how best to clean the pond. About a half hour later, while I was engrossed in my research, I looked out the window and discovered my wife knee deep in the pond with a bucket, scooping the water out and tossing it.
We’re different like that. I love it and I love her. And within that brief description of the goldfish pond cleaning incident lies the elements of the perfect plan.
Planning is also what I do for a career. I’m a succession planner, which is a broad stroke term that involves all kinds of planning. Financial planning, estate planning, business planning, strategic planning, planning for people development, planning for entry of family members into the family business, planning for death and estate taxes, etc., etc. I spend countless hours with my clients helping them plan. I organize their thoughts for them. I document it, process it, and break it down. It’s really just how I’m wired.
Strategic planning has been more than adequately researched and demonstrated as a critical element in the achievement of succession success, or the ongoing continuation of business success. In spite of the research, here are some really surprising statistics about strategic planning listed in the book Strategic Planning For Dummies:
- 95% of typical workforce doesn’t understand its organization’s strategy
- 86% of executive teams spend less than on hour per month discussing strategy
- 60% of organizations don’t link strategy to budgeting
- 90% of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully
For those multi-unit franchisees that do spend time planning, unfortunately, many end up with what my friend and colleague Dan Schneider refers to as SPOTS – Strategic Plans on the Top Shelf. As it turns out, most people, and by extension the organizations that are made up of people, are better doers than they are thinkers. This undoubtedly leads to getting stuff done. But the thinking and the doing become disconnected. What this often yields is getting stuff done poorly, incorrectly, and haphazardly. The saying, “We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re making good time” is appropriate. In the fish pond scenario above, our pond got cleaned, but all of our goldfish died.
Strategic planning involves affirming what your organization’s purpose is, where the organization is going, what it’s going to take to get you there, and constant reviews and adaptations as the strategy gets executed. This is the perfect plan.
The perfect plan is the one that combines the elements of research and strategic thinking with my wife’s get ‘r done style. In short, the perfect plan is the one that is well thought out and is executed upon.
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