Whether we’re talking about a comprehensive formal business plan, a one-page-business plan, or an on-the-fly plan for a particular project, one thing is for sure: some form of planning is absolutely necessary for reaching your BIG Vision. As we discuss in Small Business, BIG Vision, there is a danger of falling into “planning paralysis” if planning is taken to the extreme. But that doesn’t mean planning isn’t a good idea – just that you need to do it the right way.
This is especially true when members of a team get together to create a plan. Below are three important rules for effective planning with a team of employees or partners. Read through them, and share your thoughts in the comments section. What would you add to the list?
1. Choose the Right People to Assist in the Planning Process
When building a planning team, it’s important to choose committed people who can offer valuable insight and ideas regarding business growth. What’s not important is that the members of your planning team have roles of leadership within your company. To make someone a member of your planning team simply because of their position within the company is a mistake. An effective planning team can consist not only of supervisors, but also sales people and other staff members within your team. Including people from a variety of roles helps solidify your team, and it’s a great way to identify unrecognized talent.
The most important consideration is that your planning team consists of people who truly want what’s best for the company and are willing to work to achieve the overall goal of the planning process. Another important consideration when choosing members of your planning team is to choose people who, regardless of their role in your company, have the ability to keep information shared in planning sessions completely confidential and are eager to participate and contribute to the process.
2. Look at the Long Term Future of the Business
Start by looking at the big picture of success for the future of your company. Once you have a clear vision of the big picture, begin to narrow your focus a bit. Start with the present and first address problems that require immediate attention. Come up with an effective plan that will best solve any issues and allow you to implement the finished plan immediately. Once you’ve addressed any immediate issues, it’s time to develop a realistic vision of where you want the company to be in one year, five years, and ten years. By doing so, you’ll have created a goal that all of the members of your team can strive together to achieve.
Here are some questions that will help you to nail down the long term vision for your company:
- If you could travel ten years into the future, what would the world look like?
- Are there any trends that might affect the growth of your company – for better or worse?
- What are some of the issues that businesses in your industry are likely to face?
Of course you can’t really see into the future, but it is possible to create a realistic vision of the future for your business. Once you do that, the members of your planning team will have a much better understanding of what their individual roles are in the long term vision of the company.
3. Face the Facts
Be 100% honest with yourself and your crew when you examine any issues that are in the way of your company achieving its goals. By denying or sugar-coating problems, you’re not only being dishonest with yourself, but dishonest with your entire team as well. Deal with these issues in a well thought-out and calm way.
Include your team of employees in the process of coming up with solutions to the challenges within the company. Doing so will not only help you find different ways of looking at the issues, but your staff will feel included and significant. Including your employees in these types of decisions helps to build morale and encourage cohesiveness within the team. When people feel as though their opinions are valued, they’re far more likely to strive to achieve common goals of the business.
Business planning can actually be a fun process – especially when you bring together a team of creative, committed professionals. So don’t dread creating plans. Know that the work you do to put the right plan in place now will pay off many fold in the end.