Planning: The timeless leadership lesson

April FoolsThere is a popular quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  This quote has always resonated with me.  Early in my career, I was blessed to work for a Fortune 1000 company.  I began as an office assistant and progressed to the position of director of Florida operations. In my director role, I served with a tremendous leadership team.  Each year, we gathered for a strategic planning session. During this time, we set priorities, allocated resources to support these priorities, developed strategies to strengthen operations, and reviewed our company structure to ensure that our teams were working to advance the plan.

After these leadership planning sessions, each of us returned to our team and created departmental plans that supported the overall company strategic plan.  We reviewed our departmental plans monthly and reported on our progress at quarterly strategic planning update meetings.  It was a carefully organized process that helped advance the company to reach its Fortune 1000 ranking.  In preparation for these annual meetings, we went through a research process, where an understanding of the current internal and external environments is developed.  I wanted to share this with you today to illustrate the power of research and what you can accomplish with an in depth understanding of your organization and industry.

In the Marketing Toolkit section of our cafe, we offer steps to help you create a marketing plan.  The first step begins with research, where you arm yourself with information.  Knowledge is power.  This phase helps you build industry expertise, and confidence; and when you are confident about something, you’re unstoppable.  Think about this for a minute.  Suppose someone poses a question, and you know the answer without a doubt. In this situation, don’t you hold fast to your answer?  It’s because you know the correct answer.  That’s confidence gained from knowledge!  That, my friend, is the power you get from researching. Think about anything you’ve ever had to learn.  The more you know about the topic, the easier it is to understand and the less frustrating it is.  Plus, as your knowledge increases, you are able to offer recommendations for improvement as well as insightful feedback because you now have a deeper understanding of the topic.

During the research step, you examine your industry, where your business ranks within the industry, your competitors, and you conduct a complete SWOT analysis.  Once you’ve finished, you’re ready to set an over-arching marketing plan goal and then devise the objectives, strategies and tactics that will help you reach your goal.

Following a marketing plan provides the opportunity to reflect on the direction you are taking, so that you can make necessary adjustments when tactics are not performing well, or reallocate when tactics are performing well. Planning is identical to following a road map. It’s your GPS for business success.  This is a proven method. It works… but only if you do something with it.

What are your plans for today?

  • I agree that research is the building block for successfully rolling out any plan. I had an English teacher once who would constantly say “The old adage of Practice Makes Perfect is BUNK! You can practice something wrong all day & never get it right. Only perfect practice makes Perfect.” Research will help you towards perfect practice and better execution.

    • You had a great teacher, Joe! It would make a great blog topic, too.

  • Thank you, Jackie! The statement I hear most from clients is “I don’t know where to start.” Research is the starting point. Once you begin with research, the other steps fall into place.

  • LOVE how you position research as a confidence builder. You’re so right. Lots of entrepreneurs seem to shy away from it for fear of “doing it wrong” yet research leads to all sorts of good info. Great article as usual, Jo Lynn.