I heard an interesting snippet on the recently launched Manchester Business Radio this week, talking about the importance of giving yourself time to think and plan. I have also recently written a post about the focus on planning when it comes to funding, and how focusing on planning leads to situations where plans are made but not followed through. All of this got me thinking about the need to balance planning and action in running a business. There is no doubt that in running an SME the focus tends to be on action, getting things done to make sure the business keeps running, and in many cases fighting fires. So you take time out to plan, and come back inspired and fired up to put these plans into action, but on getting back into the office: the phone rings, there is a knock on your door and its business as usual. All the great plans lost in the growing to do list!
So what is the answer?
In my experience there are 5 simple rules to getting the balance right:
- Take time out to plan, but do it on different levels.
- Strategy, long term planning – Annually
- Monitoring the plan – are we still on track – Monthly/Quarterly
- Implementation/Action planning – Weekly
- Make sure at all levels your plan contains measurable & deliverable goals
- Make sure this gets embedded into your daily routine through regular meetings of those involved – these need not be long, but should be focused & away from ringing phones/email
- Always keep notes and create an action plan after each meeting (what have we agreed to do by next time)
- Monitor success against agreed goal. Focus on that which is working and bin initiatives that are not
5 simple rules that, whilst maybe not so simple to stick to, if followed can definitely turn plans into effective action & deliver results. I always like to finish with a quote, but couldn’t find one, so:
"Failing to plan may be planning to fail, but a plan without action is is not a plan, it's just words on a page!" Duncan Wright