Tag Archives: planning skills

All This Work, Wasn’t For Them

“What was the major benefit of this exercise?” I asked. For the past week, we had been planning intensive. Every meeting with every company was about their plan for the year. It was over. The confetti was on the floor and all the marching bands had gone home.

Last week, I met with three different groups, each group member presenting their plan they had worked so hard to create. The groups had ripped them apart and put them back together.

I was packing my flipchart. Emily was hanging around. I stopped packing and asked her again, “What was the major benefit of this exercise?”

“You know, at first, I thought I was preparing this plan to show my group how smart I was, how I had everything together. Everything was geared toward this meeting, but now that it’s over, I realize, all this work wasn’t for them.”

“No, it wasn’t,” I confirmed.

“It was for me. It was for me to get my head straight for the year.” Emily smiled and tucked her plan under her arm. “Gotta, go. Gotta go, get’er done.”

Our online program, Hiring Talent 2013, kicks off January 25. Pre-registration is now open.

Make Me a Promise, and Keep It

“Where’s the beef?” Marilyn shouted.

Paul was standing at the front. For the past ten minutes, he had been explaining his plan for the year. At the end of his presentation, I broke the group into four teams of three. Each team had two minutes to prepare three questions. His presentation had been nice.

“Where’s the beef?” repeated Marilyn. “You say, this year, you are going to try to become the premier service provider in the tri-county area, by exceeding the expectations of your customers. But I don’t know what that means. It sounds like the same thing your competitor is saying. It’s all fluff, meaningless. If I was your customer, (and, by the way, I am), and you told me that, I would think you are full of crap.

“If you are going to exceed my expectations, I want you to define your service level. How long will it take for you to respond on-site? To what specifications will the work be done? What kind of written guarantee will you sign? Will I pay exactly what you quoted on the phone for the work?

“Get specific. If you want to become the premier provider, you can’t just say it; you have to get specific about your level of service. You don’t have to exceed my expectations. Just make me a promise and keep it.”

Our online program, Hiring Talent 2013, kicks off on January 25. Pre-registration is now open.

Calling an Audible on Every Play?

“So, it’s January 10, and you are all assembled here to present your plans for the year. First, I want you to know how unique this is. Most organizations, in spite of the push for planning, are still in the writing process and will likely never finish their plan. This means they will continue to run their companies without any strategic direction.”

This is my speech today to an executive group assembled for the sole purpose of grilling each other about their 2013 Business Plans.

“These companies will be subject to the whims of the marketplace. They will react as best they can without a plan. It’s like calling an audible on the football field for every play of the game. Without a plan, you can’t exploit a market, wear down a competitor, take market share, open a new line, create a new department, establish a new branch. You can’t do any of those things calling audibles.

“It’s ten days into the new year and you know what you want. Today, you will likely get beat up by this executive group. Tomorrow, you will be ready to present this plan to your teams back at the office. You are ready to be a more effective leader.”

Our online program, Hiring Talent 2013, kicks off January 25. Pre-registration is now open.

Not Sophisticated, but Effective

“It seems we just get so busy that we forget to have follow-up meetings about our annual plan,” said Joyce. “We get busy, and before you know it, summer’s almost gone.”

“Do you have a 2013 calendar?” I asked.

“Well, yes, I think I have three.”

“Well, pick the one you are going to use this year and call a meeting,” I said. “And tell everyone to bring their calendars. This is not a very sophisticated management skill, but it works every time. Right, now, while your annual plan is fresh on everyone’s mind, schedule your follow-up meetings.

  • April – half day to review first quarter.
  • July – half day to review second quarter.
  • October – half day to review third quarter.

“Get them on the calendar, now, so as time marches on, those dates are already protected.

“Schedule one to two full days in December to review the fourth quarter and to finalize plans for 2014. That’s it. Now, you have a follow-up plan in place. You will get busy, that’s why you have to schedule this stuff, now.”

Our online program, Hiring Talent 2013, kicks off on January 25. Pre-registration is open now.


“What do you think is stopping you from creating a plan for this year?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” replied Dawson. “Sometimes, it seems like just an exercise that we go through every year. You know, it’s January, we have to have a plan.”

“I don’t think you know what you want,” I challenged.

“That’s not true!!! I know what I want. We have a new product we are trying to get out of the ground and a new branch we want to open in the north part of the state. There is a new market we want to go after by repackaging one of our existing services. There is a lot of stuff we want to do.”

“Good,” I said. “Now, draw 3 pictures for me, one for the new product, one for the new branch and one for the new market.”

Have you written down your action plan for 2013? What is the benefit of writing it down?