Management Articles


The Power of Planning

By: Ingrid Cliff

Ingrid Cliff is a Business Development and Human Resources Consultant to Small and Medium Businesses. Ingrid has just published Instant HR Policies and Procedures for Small and Medium Businesses

Every great invention, every work of art, every new innovation all starts with a thought. Thoughts are the most powerful forces in the universe - with the right thoughts and right focus you can achieve anything that you want to in life and in business.

So how do you tap into this power? In business just like in life you need to start with the end picture in mind. What do you want your business to do, be or achieve? Without this clarity all you will get is mixed results and muddled outcomes.

One way to help gain clarity is through a strategic planning exercise with your team. This is where you talk through where you are headed and identify the broad signposts along the way to help you know that you are on track. Now this can be a rote exercise of filling in the blanks on a planning document or it can be a time full of purpose, meaning and power. You choose.

If doing a strategic planning exercise, start with getting clarity about the current state of play of your business. Be brutally honest - what is working, what isn't, and what could you be doing better.

Now have a look at what your business could be in your wildest dreams. Look at possibilities and highlight the successes of other companies and people to expand your view. Next expand your view to what is possible at an industry level and at world level. Get excited by the wonderful potential that is in your business. It's like taking a balloon and then gradually inflating it to expand its size and potential.

From this input, create a simple but meaningful (to you) description of what your ideal business will look like, feel like and be like. Why are you here? What is the purpose of your business?

If you find that you can take out your company name of the description and it could be any business - then you have not captured the heart or essence of your business. If your only purpose is to make money - then you are limiting your potential and it will not satisfy you in the long term.

The most powerful and profitable businesses have an element of service, of giving or sharing in some way. What makes your business different and unique? What makes your heart sing about your business?

Unless you and your team can feel the power of your words, you have not "got it right". Keep working and talking until your description of your business makes your heart leap and you get excited thinking about the potential. You will get a "that's it" feeling much like a metal detector does when it finds gold.

The next challenge is to work out the signposts on the way to your dream by distilling a handful of key areas of focus. These signposts need to be easily identifiable to help you know that you are on the right path.

Work out up to 5 key areas of priority - this could be increasing customers by 5%, retaining 95% of existing customers, introducing a new product or service or whatever is relevant to you. These areas of priority or your goals need to be tangible, measurable, achievable and written in the positive.

Long lists of projects and tasks will only scatter your energies and overwhelm you and the team - so think bigger. If you try and plan every tiny detail, you don't allow room for creativity, growth and miracles to occur in your business.

I suspect people intuitively know this. I have lost count of the planning groups and exercises I have run or been a participant at, that when the part of the day gets down to tiny actions and responsibilities that energy flags and attention wanders. At this stage keep your horizon bigger rather than smaller. Only go for closer detail when you are one on one with relevant staff another day.

Write your areas of focus down. Keep these goals visible by your computer where you can see them every day. Each day visualize yourself achieving your business goals and how this will feel for you and the team and the most important thing - take action! Every week, do at least one thing to move you towards each of your areas of priority.

One word of caution - a great business vision and plan will not fly unless your perception and beliefs about your own capabilities either match or have expanded with the vision. Part of every planning exercise needs to include an element of growing your own belief of your personal capabilities and seeing yourself as having the potential to personally achieve your dreams.

The reality is - if you can dream it, you have the potential inside you to achieve it. If you are finding a mis-match between your dreams and your view of your potential, then have a chat with a professional coach, counselor or healer to help you take that step into who you can be.

So, start your planning for your future. Dream big, plan big and you will surprise yourself with the results you will achieve.

© Copyright 2007, Ingrid Cliff

Other Articles by Ingrid Cliff

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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