Many strategic planning people recommend that when doing planning it’s important to put together a five-year or longer plan. I’m wondering whether the five-year plan makes sense anymore.
The world is changing so fast that long-term planning almost seems a little silly. I have no idea what my business is going to look like five years from now. I don’t know what the actions of the regulators will be, I don’t know what the economy is going to look like and I certainly don’t know what will be most important for me to concentrate on.
I do know I’ll still be working within my corporate purpose. Our corporate purpose is to help make our clients lives better. I do know that five and ten years from now that will still be the reason we work with clients and the reason they work with us. I don’t know what the specifics are, but as long as I concentrate on what’s important to our clients, we’ll still have a viable product clients will be interested in.
Action step: Make sure you have a good corporate purpose that is short and can be integrated into everything you do.
I do know that constant improvement will continue to be important. One of my major problems with strategic planning is putting goals together. I hate goals. You either are successful or you’re not. If you’re successful, what’s next? If not, then you get to be a loser.
Instead of having goals, why don’t we just go for constant improvement? I suggest that we understand where we are now. We find that out by having great measurements that give us good feedback. We then need to assemble a system for tracking improvement.
Action step: Put together a great measurement system so you can track improvement in your company.
I learn more from mistakes than doing it right. It’s just as important to know when we aren’t getting improvement. Without good metrics we can’t understand progress that we’re making. Mistakes or backwards improvement give us an opportunity to deeply analyze what we’re doing.
When improvement doesn’t happen we must take a look at what we’re doing and more importantly, what we can change. It’s in the change that we can reverse a downward trend and start seeing improvement that we all want.
Action step: Learn to celebrate or at least accept mistakes for bringing the value they do to our lives.
Under any circumstance, lets stop doing long-term planning and start moving in the right direction. I’m more interested in making sure we’re going in the right direction than coming up with a hypothetical success.
My belief is that movement in the right direction is always more important than the destination. In my experience the destination is likely to change, but moving in the right direction is always moving in the right direction.
What are your thoughts about long-term planning? Do you think it’s the right thing to do or is constant improvement more important?