Business plan

Working the Business Plan and Fighting Fires – Know the Difference

Creating your strategic business plan does not happen by accident. It’s a huge commitment of time and resources, with the expectation of achieving your key goals and objectives. It is an intentional effort. The plan is the result of countless discussions, assumptions and many compromises. Most teams leave the planning session clear-eyed and focused on the opportunities ahead. But here’s the rub: life tends to get in the way of the best of plans. Pandemics, supply chain issues, staffing issues, inflation, and changes in how your customers want to buy from you can prevent the playbook from working according to plan.

Working your plan is intentional

Developing your plan is a focused effort that relies on execution, learning what works, making adjustments, and applying lessons learned. These adjustments are not deviations from the plan, but simply a modification of tactics according to the environment in which you find yourself.

Firefighting is responsive

Headwinds created in a changing market can easily knock a ship off course. The best leaders are tested in these environments. The real test, however, is whether the goals of the business plan have been seriously thought out or perhaps just nice to have. If there is not enough buy-in to the plan, the team will resume fighting daily fires as soon as the going gets tough. Don’t pass judgment here, because some days the flames just need to be put out, no questions asked. This should be the exception and not the rule.

Beware the Internal Arsonist

If it seems like every day is a firefight, it may be prudent to look within before blaming the external pressures of running a business. While this may not happen within your organization, we have seen instances where managers live to put out fires. They are very good at it, in fact they have made it their profession. Without admitting it, they can’t wait for the next one to happen so they can save the day. By not addressing the root cause and offering a solution to the problem, they are actually behaving like arsonists.

Run, Modify and Retry

Communicate your project. Make sure people know why you do what you do and how stakeholders will benefit from this route. Sometimes knowing the “why” is more important than the “what” to being accepted. Don’t neglect communication as you begin to execute your plan. At the beginning of your journey, you will undoubtedly encounter obstacles and obstacles along the way. While you may be able to overcome some of them, others will require you to change your approach in order to achieve your goal. Learn what works and learn what doesn’t. Continuous accumulation of this knowledge base will allow you to make better decisions on how to implement your strategy.

Think about what you do that is intentional and what is reactive, it will be a balancing act for most companies. You will have impediments, make sure the internal ones are kept to a minimum. Finally, work with your team to execute, learn, modify, and redeploy your efforts. Any thoughts on this? If you already do, let us know how it goes. If you want to go this route, let me know. Good luck.

Mike Philie can help you validate what’s working and what needs to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is hard to do while simultaneously leveraging core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the graphic communications industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice unpopular opinion, and helping leaders navigate change through to a sensible and practical approach. Learn more about, LinkedIn or by e-mail at [email protected].