Summer is many things. School break. Vacation time. Pool season. And for many of us – the beginning of our annual business and financial planning process. Okay, maybe planning doesn’t have the same ring to it, but with rethinking our old ways, we can put a bit of pep (and new perspective!) back in the process.
We’ve all heard of the 4Ps of Marketing (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place), but have you heard of the 4Ps of Planning? Check it out:
No person can effectively plan alone: engage your team in new ways, purposefully, bring different views to the table, invite your cross-functional partners, and get everyone involved. Bringing people together does a lot of good! It helps share the workload and better your work. As a leader, it gives you an opportunity to see who on your team has a real knack for planning and offers a chance to grow and learn. And since a lot of business plans drive change, it gives your team an opportunity to be part of and adapt to that change from the ground up. Participation! It’s always a good thing!
We frequently spend way too much time making our plan so pretty that we forget to make it plain. What does that mean? It means to be clear. Be simple. Say exactly what you want to do and don’t let the corporate-mumbo-jumbo get in the way. We’re so used to our bandwidth being throttled and our ideas being vetted (was that corporate lingo bingo enough?) that our actual ideas get lost in the wording. Ask yourself “what are you actually trying to say?” – and work with your team to see if you’re meeting that goal. Clear is kind – that applies to feedback and to your business plan!
Prioritization is key to a successful business and financial planning process. We can’t do everything all the time, and it takes leadership to say no or “not now” to a good idea. Create clear factors to use to prioritize. Is this a year that we’re focused on our operations upgrades? Will new branches be the need next year? Be upfront with what these factors are – and use them at every step of the planning process. Make sure to prioritize your own plan so that it’s clear what you’re focusing on and what you are requesting.
The process can be long. There are multiple milestones, and it will probably feel like you have been “planning” forever. But remember, there’s actually no “off-season” to planning – our plans should always be front of mind. A great way to do this is to have formal strategy check-ins once a quarter. You never know what’s going to come up through the course of a year. These check-ins give you a chance to see what’s working, what’s not, and to readjust. Also, don’t fret if your plan or project doesn’t get prioritized this year. That’s not a value judgement – it’s most likely a prioritization decision. Stay strong and remember next year’s planning process will start before you know it!