Why Business Plans Don’t Work and What To Do About It

A great deal of time, effort and money often goes into producing a business plan. Regretfully, many don’t see the light of day until the dust is blown off when it’s time to write the next one! Frankly, our research suggests they have little effect on what most people do on a day to day basis either.

There are a number of reasons why this happens; here are three of them plus some tips that can help:

  1. Engagement: Many business plans are produced and presented using the equivalent principle of Moses returning from Mount Sinai with the 10 commandments. Instead, a good leader should sit down with his/her team and ask what they think needs to be achieved as people are far more likely to be interested in, enthusiastic about and committed to objectives they have contributed to.
    Note – It’s perfectly acceptable for a senior manager to ask a team for their input prior to making a final decision i.e. asking opinions doesn’t mean the company is run by committee!
  2. Delegated Ownership and Responsibility: Despite what senior managers might think or expect, our research suggests that most middle managers and virtually every team member have no idea as to either the direction the company is going in or the business goals for the year. That’s more than a little concerning considering they are the people responsible for making it happen! (If you doubt what we say, test it for yourself).
    The missing link is properly delegated ownership and responsibility – once a plan is produced, every person throughout the company must understand what they are personally responsible for delivering and how they will achieve it. The sum of the parts must then equal the total.
  3. Feedback on Progress: Sitting down once a quarter (at best) and reviewing results achieved is NOT management. It’s too late – you can’t change the figures in front of you! The act of management takes places DURING each month in firstly monitoring what’s actually happening compared to what should be happening then providing feedback/coaching as appropriate. Our experience is there often isn’t much management actually going on because many managers have never been given the “tools to do the job” through formal management training. A start would be to have “Monthly Action Plan” team meetings on the first working day of every month to discuss progress against objectives, agree on activities and results for the month to come and spot individuals that might need some attention.

If as a manager you would like a more committed, motivated team that consistently delivers the necessary results, you will find plenty more tips in our “Principles of Management and Leadership” course. Have a look at what’s involved by visiting our Management & Leadership page.

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