It’s in our DNA. The human brain is a planning machine. We create hundreds of plans each day, some large, some small. We plan our route to work or school, what to make for dinner, a week-end fishing trip, our next hair appointment. We are always planning.
We contemplate a desired outcome (goal), determine how to achieve it (strategy) and take action (execute). We rarely, if ever write these plans down, totally unnecessary for the multiple small, simple, plans we action every day.
As our plans become larger, more complex we occasionally write them down.
Here’s an example we can all relate to: our weekly trip to the supermarket.
It starts with a goal: we need food, replenish the pantry, to feed our family.
A senior executive (Mom, Dad) jumps in the car and heads to the supermarket with a vague plan bouncing around in his brain. He grabs a shopping cart and starts to execute on his plan.
Up and down the aisles he goes, somewhat randomly tossing items in the cart, making moment by moment decisions. (he’s an entrepreneur and takes pride in his ability to make decisions on the fly) – a little of this, some of that, maybe one of these. Look, on sale, I’ll buy three!
Oh, that’s new! I’ll give it a try.
Whoops, forgot the butter, back to the dairy section.
Now he rolls into the check out and begins to stress over the unrelenting rising price of groceries.
Back home, as the goods are unpacked, the accusing voice “where’s the coffee!”, followed by hasty return to the store.
Let’s compare this plan, to a similar one, only this time we write our plan down.
We start with a review of our current situation, then make a list. Check the pantry, the fridge, contemplate the meal requirements for the next week. Next, we organize the list by category, meat and poultry in one column, then fruit/vegetables, dairy, other. This will save time in execution at the supermarket.
Now, let’s ramp this planning process up a bit. Put the list on the fridge door so the whole team can get involved. The plan is updated and refreshed on a regular basis throughout the week.
After s few months of experience with this, we decide to make a further refinement, what if we had an overarching purpose (our why) to guide our decisions. Something like, “ maximum nutrition that will promote, strong, healthy energetic lifestyle for our family”. Over time, chips and cheesies disappear from the list, replaced by fresh fruit and healthy nuts.
Now, we’re ready to execute. With list in hand, off we go to the supermarket. We save time, money, and get better quality results.
Better still, the family executive, Mom and Dad, can delegate the execution of the plan to their senior team members, son or daughter, and spend the day in the garden, go for a walk on the beach.
If this shopping project works better when we invest a few minutes to document our plan, and implement an ongoing planning process, imagine the impact on your business if we develop the skills and habit of “running our business from a written plan”.
Research shows the probability of success goes up by 30-50%.
Your written plan is the foundation that builds team alignment, accountability, and clarity of direction.
It’s time to get started. Improved results will soon follow.