Well, so long 2019! The year is nearly over already. And, as usual, you’ve given a lot of thought to where you’ll be by Thanksgiving 2020—right? And you’ve put it all into your business plan, for sure. … correct?
No? Well I have! See, we’re almost to the holiday season, and I have too much to do and so much competing for my time—the three fall Fs: family, friends, and football—but I’m not complaining at all. I love it actually! That’s because I’ve been planning for this moment since last year. That’s right, it’s all in my old 2018 destination plan. That’s why fall is one of my favorite seasons, not just because of the big games and the changing leaves, but because my tasks, expectations, and strategies are mostly mapped out for me.
And right now, of course, I’m busy preparing my 2020 plan, so I thought I’d share a few tips with you while I’m in the process. Below include a ton of useful info about the incredible HBDI assessment, so don’t miss out on reading about that.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve seen approaches ranging from seat-of-the-pants planning to obsessive-compulsive over-planning to the ever popular just-do-what-we-did-last-year plan. Here are the steps you need to take to get familiar with my preferred style, the destination plan, and knock your 2020 business planning out of the park.
1. Don’t Procrastinate—Start Now!
Right now it’s the end of the year. The holidays are coming up. Lots of businesses have slowed. We’re all looking forward to Christmas and slowly that holiday sluggishness is creeping into our blood. But one thing you may have now is at least a little free time at the office. So, start doing just a bit of work on your 2020 plan. Try for just a few minutes per day or per week. Start brainstorming: where do you want to be next year, what’s involved, what happened last year, and who and what do you need to make it happen better? Jot it down. Do a bit of research. The annual business plan can be a big project, but if you start doing it early it has a way of getting easier and easier to manage.
2. Take Responsibility and Determine Purpose
Here’s the thing: If you don’t do your planning someone—or something—else will do it for you. If you leave it up to fate, she won’t be kind to you. If you procrastinate, a competitive colleague may well take it up and crash and burn with it (or, worse, slam dunk it). It’s entirely unnecessary. Take responsibility for your brand’s or your department’s future. Look at your recent history and determine your purpose and goals over the next one year. Not just where you want to be—but why. What is the point of your brand, why do you do what you do? What is your purpose? Understanding your most basic motivations is fundamental to success.
3. Now Pick Your Destination
When you plan for a family vacation, you don’t just get in a car and go, do you? You probably consult your wife/husband and/or kids about where and when you want to go and then you build a plan together. When I say let’s go on vacation, it’s easy for my wife and three girls to just say sure. But if we don’t identify the right destination, one that we all want to see, we may all very well end up with three very different places. Destination planning in business is no different. It takes communication across stakeholders so that you can gain alignment and push your brand toward a central goal as a group. So use your imagination as well as your practical skills when consulting with stakeholders and find out where you all want to be. And once you identify that destination, stick to it.
4. Think with Your Whole Brain
My buddy Mo Bunnell is an amazing business development consultant. I attended his GrowBIG training this year and it was eye opening. As part of his curriculum, he has his participants do what’s called the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) assessment to identify thinking preferences. There is no right or wrong way to think, but what becomes clear is that if you are high in one dimension then you’re probably low in another. I’m off the charts in Strategic Thinking, for instance, but much weaker in the Practical Thinking part of my brain. For an ideal outcome, you have to consider all four different thinking areas of the brain.
How does this relate to your business plan? First check out the HBDI test—even take one yourself—and explore the four thinking styles. You’ll see how it will help you. You can organize teams based on how people think and, often, this has extraordinary benefits. You learn pretty quickly that when you create the right balance in a team, their productivity and success rate skyrocket. For your own edification, here are the four thinking styles:
Relational/Emotion: Emotional Connections and Feelings. Are you inspiring your audience in a way that draws them in?
Analytical/Rational: Numbers and Pragmatics. Are you a critical person and a problem solver who needs the data to make informed decisions?
Practical/Active: Doers Who GSD (Get S**t Done). Are you a planner, organizer, and a doer who likes to build pathways to desired outcomes?
When you have a team that brings all these skills to the table, chances are high that they’ll be way more effective.
5. Communicate Your Vision and Include Everyone
Once you research and build your plan, you’ll need a way to project the plan clearly and effectively to your teams and managers. So boil your plan down to a set of easily digestible goals and give everyone this shortlist as a guide. Make sure everyone is aligned and on the same page. In truth, your team wants to help. But they need an understanding of the big picture before they can do that. Establish that vision and then give them some stake in the game with the goal of getting their head, heart, and hands involved. People want to feel useful and effective—so don’t let them down!
6. Make Room for Contingencies
Ensure that your plan is adaptable in light of unforeseeable events and sudden changes. A business plan never works out exactly according to plan. Markets shift, clients change their minds, staff turns over and brings in a new set of thinking skills. As with most things, the readiness is all. So be honest with yourself about the possibilities—bad and good—with each move in your plan. Then plan out the proper responses and remain prepared to use them.
7. Enforce Accountability
A plan is a plan is a plan. It means nothing if it is not executed, and executed well. So once you settle on the right plan, with all of the contingency measured baked in and the right people with the right thinking styles organized in the right way, make sure you have some way of measuring effectiveness and success. Data analytics will help with this, as will good management in general. Get aligned across the board and make sure to make annual events, deadlines, milestones, and so forth public knowledge with your staff and to celebrate with them when you reach those critical turning points in your business plan. Make the business plan part of the overall internal brand story and your staff, if they’re any good, will not only perform well but they will pick it up intuitively and build on it.
Once you establish the conditions for success, you make your journey as fun as reaching your destination. So bon voyage and good luck with your 2020 business destination plan!
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