Most people spend more time planning their holidays than they do planning their business.
I strongly believe this statement to be true. Many business owners fail to plan because they get too busy. They are also often focused on the wrong things, such as running a tight ship, rather than investing in the appropriate resources to enable the business to grow.
The upshot of this is that in many cases, the owners run out of hours in the day to hold regular board or management meetings, and it is extremely rare to find a smaller or medium-sized business with the discipline to hold an annual planning session for the year ahead.
The value of planning sessions
An annual planning session, preferably facilitated by an independent professional, is a very valuable process for a business. (If you have a proactive accountant, he or she could facilitate this process very effectively.) A planning session should result in a concise action plan with clear accountabilities for implementation.
In our business, we have adopted the One Page Plan format promoted by international growth expert, Verne Harnish (www.gazelles.com.) Our process has been as follows:
- Annual planning session with all managers and directors
We work through our core values, our BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) and then agree on our 10-year target. From that, we create three-year, one-year and quarterly goals and set the key priorities for the year ahead—and how we will measure the progress towards those priorities.
- Follow-up session with the entire team
We assign individual accountabilities around projects and key performance indicators (KPIs). All of these must feed through to the company priorities.
- Quarterly review meetings (management followed by team)
Update, revise or raise the bar on targets.
- Weekly team meetings with the entire team
Each team member gives a brief update on progress.
- Daily 7-minute management meetings
We make commitments to each other as to what we will achieve that day. Agenda: what’s up; daily metric; where are you stuck?
- Daily 10-minute meeting with all team members in the office
Same agenda as for the daily management meetings.
This process has seriously improved the way in which manage our business. When I look back from where we are now to the time we started our One Page Plan process, the number of projects we have implemented has been phenomenal.
Don’t fall into the trap of being all consumed by what your business does. As the owner, it is critically important that you step out of working ‘in’ the business at least once a quarter and spend some quality time planning your business (and personal) future.