With the business environment as unsettled as it has been lately, you might think that taking time to undertake a planning process might not be the best use of your time right now. I would actually venture that you need to plan now more than ever. One good thing about planning is that it makes you sit down with your team and take some time to think about the priorities and direction of your business. While I agree that the end result should not be a 300-page five-year strategic plan (that might indeed be overkill at this point), a short bullet list of key priorities might just do the trick.
If you want to grow your business (and who doesn't want to do that?), then you've got to get out of the reactive firefighting mode, and into a proactive mode where YOU decide the direction of your business. Planning helps you do this by:
- Directing the choices made by everyone in the company.
- Allowing employees to be proactive rather than giving in to the tyranny of the urgent.
- Enabling your company to prosper rather than just survive.
The importance of planning was once described by entrepreneur Debra Jones in the following way. Imagine that you've got 100 balls in the air -- 100 balls that you're juggling at any one time. 85 of these balls are made of rubber -- if you drop one, it will bounce and you can recover it no harm no foul. And 10 of the balls are made of rock. If one falls, it makes a big noise, but it isn't destroyed -- you can pick it up and start juggling it again. However, the 5 remaining balls are made of glass. Drop one, and it's all over. Every businessperson needs to figure out which of the 100 balls he or she is juggling are made of glass and keep them in the air -- no matter what -- along with the other 95 balls that are rising and falling all around them.
Do YOU know which of the balls you're juggling are made of rubber, which are made of rock, and which are made of glass? Planning will help you figure it out. Plus it just might give you the insight you need right now to weather the current economic storm.