We know we need to do business plans; proverbially ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. It’s commercial common sense. A plan is like a compass, it’s the ladder to our intention… showing the rungs still to climb to ascend from where we are.
But many of our business plans don’t work. They become POTS – Plans On The Shelf, rarely referred to, despite our best intentions… Why?
- Were you simply going through the motions, somewhat disconnected?
- Were your aspirations too lofty?
- Were the plan elements too complicated?
- Was it a lack of rigor in execution?
- A lack of understanding and buy‐in by those responsible for its implementation?
- Or something else entirely?
All valid possibilities. The net result … the status quo prevailed and little changed. “Groundhog day” is no longer an entertaining movie, but a metaphor for your business growth trajectory.
‘Smarter Start’ Business Planning
From the lessons learned over 20 years of business coaching experience as to why business plans don’t get executed, we have developed the ‘Smarter Start’ approach that really works! Our ‘Smarter Start’ addresses many potential failures by incorporating insights from positive psychology and neuroscience, boosting the success for planning and fulfillment; it includes simple techniques to circumvent subtle blockers and inhibitors during the planning process.
Here we offer you a range of practical ‘how-to’ suggestions that will significantly enhance both your business planning experience and its implementation.
Before we begin, let’s set the scene…
Keeping It Simple
Please consider this equation: 7 +/- 2 (Seven plus or minus two) … This is the number of objects we can hold in our working memory. This has been associated with “Miller’s Law”, and was observed by Princeton Professor and psychologist George Miller in about 1956. It reflects our ability to process information: so… we can readily process between 5 and 9 things.
But, today we are overwhelmed with information to process.
So my take on this is: default always to uber-simplicity … Focus on a maximum of four things, three is even better. We can recall and easily digest three or four things.
To start, we’ll restrict the content to four planning catalysts:
- Energising your Planning Ecology
- Resonant Visioning
- Yes-No Planning
- Accountability Partnering
Energising your Planning Ecology
We know that going offsite for planning enhances creativity; our usual work‐related links are broken and we tend to think more expansively: As we take in a glorious scenic view (looking out the windows of a retreat) our eyes take on a ‘soft’ focus, our blood pressure drops, we feel calmer and more creative. (Hard focus, such as staring at a screen, has the opposite effect!)
Going to an offsite facility is an example of an external or outer (physical) ecology. Even more influential than this is our Inner energy ecology. The following grid will help explain what I mean.
|5. Centered||Ease, flow, relaxed, present, grateful||Above the clouds|
|4. Responsive||Motivated, optimistic, positive, curious|
|3. Survival||Leaky attention, irritable, indifferent||Below the clouds|
|2. Breakdown||Withdrawn, vulnerable, anxious, burnout|
|1. Defeated||Uncaring, miserable, detached, lethargic|
In every moment our inner energy is somewhere on this grid. The question is,
‘where do you need to be (what level/s) to create a powerfully motivational business plan?
I’m sure you’ve experienced being in a room of people who are all, energetically, at Level 4; “Responsive” or above. Recall what that was like … Probably there was spontaneity, humour, laser-focus, constructive challenges and insight; the atmosphere crackling with ideas and a feeling of ‘one-ness’ between the participants. Likely to be a highly memorable experience …
Now imagine your business planning taking place within such an ecology. The creativity, nearness of possibility, motivation to ‘make it so’ is palpable. Pure rocket fuel.
In my experience, such planning occasions are rare… unless deliberately facilitated. Why? Because energy state is not consciously recognised as a valid ingredient. Most facilitators (and participants) do not factor it in… but it absolutely determines the quality of the business plan outcome.
A good facilitator will ensure the room stays ‘above the clouds’ where the air, the atmosphere and the ‘energy’ is clear throughout the whole planning process.
Effective business planning starts with deliberately setting the ecology – both the external ecology (facilities, temperature, food etc) and ensuring the all-important internal states of all participants, ensuring each are at “Responsive – Level 4” or higher.
Bruce Ross, 2015
Bruce is our New Zealand Associate and an experienced business coach, leadership expert and facilitator of energising workshops.
Stay tuned for next month’s newsletter for Part II of this article, about “Resonant Visioning” and “Yes-No Planning”