Over the course of my life and career, I’ve played many varying roles: consultant, designer, marketing professional, retailer, writer, leader, athlete, caterer, Realtor®, advisor, student, coach, and (most importantly and my favorite) mom, to name a few.
As I thought through what to write about this week, I recalled last week’s blog post (“Enjoy the Journey”) and considered Parker Avery’s latest published case study (“Operational Strategy Business Plan”) – it occurred to me the transformation from one role or phase of a person’s life to another role or phase cannot possibly happen successfully without a proper plan.
Most of us are familiar with one of Steven Covey’s famous tenets, “Begin with the end in mind,” and as my father’s mentor, Norman Vincent Peale, was quoted as saying, “Plan your work for today and everyday, then work on your plan today and everyday.” The focus of these two motivational icons was traditionally on personal self-improvement, and countless numbers of people have deeply relied on these simple beliefs to achieve great successes. I’m a planner and self-imposed over-analyzer, and it is difficult for me to make even small transitions or achieve personal goals without fully understanding and being prepared for what I’m going to undertake. As do most endurance runners, my training plans are mapped out well in advance of races and adjusted as necessary when injuries cause me to be sidelined or back down. As a project manager, one of my major focus areas is starting with and consistently managing a solid project plan.
This key element of success also holds true for business transformations of any size. Taking the time and effort to create a proper business plan upfront is critical to keep the company and stakeholders focused and on target. Looking towards the desired future state and pragmatically considering all elements required to get there, as well as potential roadblocks and change management implications is paramount to achieving positive outcomes. Plans need to be flexible, to accommodate the inevitable “bumps in the road,” and the project team – as well as the business stakeholders who ultimately will benefit from the transformation – need to be open minded and patient as new events and external factors impinge progress. Things rarely (if ever) go exactly as initially planned, so this flexibility and patience is key.
Plans also need not be absolutely perfect at the onset. With the understanding that flexibility, focus and persistence are necessities for success, it is important to be prepared but not to the point that the planning stage supersedes actually commencing the initiative. At some point you have to pull the trigger and begin the work – it’s always a good idea to have a distinct timeframe or date in place for this to happen.
Ultimately, all eyes should be on the end goal. With a solid plan in place and focus on the future state, you should expect success. As Zig Ziglar, another one of my dad’s and my favorites was known to say, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” I’ll take the liberty of appending that quote a bit: “…with a good plan.”