Thursday, October 15, 2009

October is International Strategic Planning Month

This month the planet is celebrating International Strategic Planning Month. Why not join in the celebration?

What does your own plan look like? Tattered around the edges? Way off projected revenue and profit? Forgotten in some dusty corner? Not updated since February?

Or maybe you're one of those successful people who has a plan and keeps it up-to-date. You use the plan to guide your work, adjust it as necessary, and use it as a living document. If so, you celebrate ISP every month.

I was on a TV interview show recently with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He emphasized the need for executing the plan and adjusting the plan based on conditions on the ground. Now this is an important and even critical part of planning that too many people forget about.

Those of us who do create a strategic plan every year are often optimistic about what we can accomplish. We do the best job we can to analyze the environment in which we will be operating but none of us has a crystal ball...Stuff happens.

Unfortunately, too many folks drop the plan and start reacting to those unexpected events -- usually negative events -- and then we are into a downward spiral of firefighting.

When this year started, the ink on my plan was barely dry when the economic melt down hit me and my business hard. It was a scary couple of months -- disaster loomed and businesses were folding right and left. I was just as scared and worried as anyone else.

What I did was go back to the drawing board. I rewrote my plan, set new goals, devised new strategies, and set out on a new execution path. Everything I tried didn't work but some things did. As my friend the CEO said, "you can have the most elegant strategy, but when you hit the beach, it's execution that counts." Usually I'm not a big fan of war analogies in business but this is one of the times when the metaphor fit...and worked. I had to be more nimble, more creative, and more survival oriented than at any time in my business life.

The payoff? It's October and I'm still in business celebrating International Strategic Planning month. My plan? I just finished a new update that will take me through the second quarter of 2010. I may revise it a gain in 3 months -- the plan is only as good as the execution.

What about you? Have you made your plan for 2010? Now's a good time. Remember the old chestnut that's still floating around because it's true -- Fail to Plan -- Plan to Fail!

Want to know more about the Do's and Don'ts of Strategic Planning? Download it for free today.

(c) Rebecca Staton-Reinstein and Advantage Leadership, Inc.