Though this seems cliche’d in hindsight, it is very different as a practice. Most entrepreneurs I meet, especially the small business CEOs detest planning. Anything abstract such as strategy, vision, planning, etc is seen as a waste of resources. They seem to know what they want! They seem to know where it is available! They seem to know how to get it! However for some inexplicable reason it always seems to elude them! So I asked why? And behold they had answers to that as well – execution, market conditions, industry forces, timing, lack of talent, lack of capital, etc
Do you see a pattern in this? All of these people are smart and intelligent. This made them see opportunities that most others didn’t. This led them to start enterprises. But soon after they got off the ground, they seemed to have stopped doing something right. What could be done by them in their mind and executed almost individually earlier, now requires a lot more people. And very often most of these people can’t see what these entrepreneurs are seeing. But the entrepreneur fails to see this. He / She wants people to see what they are seeing – it fails! And people around them get frustrated and disillusioned. The typical reason being they are not able to read and get what is in the mind on the entrepreneur – neither the dream nor his expectations from them. Most often this gap is mitigated if planning as a function is used.
Planning as an activity helps the core group around the entrepreneur see the vision of the entrepreneur. This group works to present their ideas on how this vision can be turned into reality. The approach and set of choices is then turned into plans. By the time the plans are turned into action items for the various members and their teams, most of them know their role in making this vision become reality. They know their contribution. This gets them charged up as individuals and enables them in turn to charge up their teams. They take ownership for what they wanted to contribute.Because as Peter Drucker says, contribution is freedom and this freedom to make it happen comes with a responsibility, but when it is by choice, it is ownership, else it is seen as a burden.
So the next time you as a CEO want to skip the planning session and directly define the goals for the company and how they are going to be achieved – think twice!