Category Archives: Business Planning

Focus and the Need for ‘Craft’

You’d definitely need a plan to get up here….!! (it’s the Matterhorn if you’re interested)

He’s hairy, American and passionate about his subject….! Brad Frost tells it how it is. He calls it bullshit and he might be right…

A great presentation with some quite incredible facts about how the internet and its content is building every day. And the need, in the context of such a quantity of information and data, to simplify and condense our messages and activities. The conclusion – what sets professionals apart from the other 90% – is the term ‘craft’. People are starting to appreciate craft, things that make things easier, simpler. Things that are of high quality and useful (without bullshit). Products, services and messages that are simple and more effective and engaging as a result. The future is about focus he says  – maximising the signal and minimising the noise – word of mouth will spread things more effectively than broadcasting through numerous over complicated channels. And the way to get word of mouth working is to provide craft..

Maybe it’s exactly the same with business planning and strategy development. The process of doing it has to be simple, and the output simple too. To quote Lou Pritchett – ‘people support best that which they helped to create’. When I work with teams to build their strategy and develop their business plans the overriding theme throughout all exercises is to keep it simple and clear. Craft something that everyone can use, understand and be part of. And to climb the Matterhorn it’s simply a need to climb carefully and well, with craft even.

Take a look at your latest business plan – has it been crafted carefully and simply so that it works and you are actually using to take the busines forward?

Now enjoy Brad on bullshit:


Planning and Plans, Goals and Achieving Them

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” – Confucius

Wise words indeed.

I find that being flexible with business plans is essential, designing in the opportunity to adjust and recalibrate. Too many times businesses put together a detailed plan with a lot of interrelated actions, which, once one or two have gone pear shaped, all others seem to follow. This is very demotivating for the team and can quickly lead to abandonment of the whole plan, and an increasing disenchantment with whole process of planning too. There’s no need for this, it’s crucial that a business finds a way to plan, and then a way to implement that plan. If being flexible along the way achieves this then so be it.

I’ve found that looking no further out than 3 quarters works well, with a review each month of simple summaries of the activities -‘investigate and develop a plan for the installation of a CRM system’. If these activities fall behind then just move to them to next quarter (obviously try to get them back on track but if you can’t then hey, stuff happens…). In my experience this has proven to be the most satisfactory way to plan and then to actually get things done over the long term. There’s no need to beat oneself up, the idea is to set some goals, plan to achieve them and then actually do so! Holding rigidly to a plan at all costs often achieves very little in the end. In essence it is the act of planning, which is an ongoing process, that really produces results. To quote Eisenhower:

”In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”

How are you developing your goals and plans at the moment – and how much flexibility are you building in to the process? Don’t be scared to plan for flexibility too.

Plan, keep planning, and plan to keep planning…..

Innovation and Wild Ideas

And talking of innovation…..well, it’s right at the heart of any business isn’t it? Needing to come up with new ways of pleasing your customers, new ways of providing your services, and even, obviously, new products.

When you’re the boss it’s a hell of a pressure to be the one who always thinks of the new stuff – spotting the problems and then finding the solutions, listening hard to customers to get those essential insights that will keep you one step ahead. You often feel you’re the only one who’s doing it! Solution – you need to leverage the people and teams in your organisation to do the spotting for you – set up some way of capturing ‘ideas from the front line’ – and do reward the spotting, even if you don’t (or can’t) do something with the information. The key is to get more eyes and ears out there and to encourage it as the culture of your business. Ideas are good. Make it a theme for the month…

Another way is to seek out and cultivate the ‘wild ideas’ people – there’s always one somewhere in your organisation. You know – the one who (when finally asked) says ‘I’ve been thinking we ought to try…..’ And sometimes it really is wild, but for every five or six crazy ones there is usually one that has some legs and can be modified, or used as is, to take the business forward. Seek them out and have a talk, you never know…Ideas are good.

And if you want an example of a wild ideas guy take a look here.

Scott really does have some wild ones…… let me know which ones you think are goers!

#innovation #wildideas #ideasaregood