Planning for Success Requires Patience to Implement Successfully!

Writing a Strategic Plan may be compared to Baking a Chocolate Cake from scratch with similar pitfalls planning for success. Both are custom made and best when executed by experts. They require diligence, precision, adherence to complicated steps and most of all – patience. Rushing the process causes serious mistakes. But those who carefully plan will enjoy good profit.

Before baking a cake, correct ingredients must be gathered in a well-equipped kitchen. Note: an oven’s inaccurate temperature gauge will under cook or burn the cake’s edges. Compare this with market data that is slanted to reflect a “hoped for” conclusion. Both examples will negatively affect the outcome, despite following all the remaining steps perfectly!

Even measuring and mixing ingredients offers pitfalls. The sugar and butter must be combined first, then added to the dry mix. Beat the ingredients too long and the cake becomes flat. Substitute wrong ingredients and the flavor can be ruined. (I vividly remember my daughter Linda, making a batch of blueberry muffins. She substituted baking soda for baking powder resulted in a bitter flavor of soap.)

Essential to a Strategic Plan, beyond researching the market, is gathering data from former and current customers, as well as employees who have valuable expertise to be tapped carefully. Employees are in a position to assist or foil implementation. Remember – some employees may be hostile. They may have provided suggestions which were discarded off-hand, but their input is vital as you are planning for success.

As various strengths, weaknesses and opportunities begin to appear, managers and owners, lacking patience, seize opportunities to implement immediately. Concentration on the now is like eating the cake at this juncture. Patience! Pour the mixture into the pans and bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Then let it cool.

Next step is to add frosting. Ingredients must be carefully measured and mixed. Cakes need to be removed from the pans at the precise time to avoid crumbling. (It would be ridiculous to frost first!) Likewise, Strategic Plans need to identify a few (3+) objectives. Each objective must have step-by-step strategies including cost, completion date and a person responsible. Finally, the “Plan” needs to be supported by a top manager.

So – it’s time to eat the cake and implement the Plan? Right? No! The frosting needs to “set up” or it will be runny; the table needs to be set; and those who wish to enjoy the cake must sit at the table. Likewise, the Plan with instructions must be copied, distributed to all participants and a meeting held to emphasize both current work plus the Plan gets done.

After I created a Strategic Plan for the weakest of 5 divisions at Electro-Voice, a $60M audio manufacturer, President Bob Pabst attended the 1st follow-up meeting. Anyone not meeting the timetables received his wrath. Although rarely attending weekly follow-up meetings, he had set the tone – no schedule variation would be tolerated! Result? It achieved the highest growth over the next 3 years, even allowing purchase of its main competitor, while the only division with a Plan.

The cake? It’s 4 layers; each covered with raspberry jam, and filled with chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries. Next it’s topped with 3 types of chocolate frosting including a gnache and chocolate butter-cream frosting. Finally, it’s topped with fresh whole raspberries. The flavor is incredible! Ladies marvel and men say . . . “It’s a heart attack on a plate!” The result from your plan should be just as amazing.

Few companies just get lucky. They win by creating and following strong, well thought-out and executed Strategic Plans. So, how’s your company’s Strategic Plan? Are you planning for success? The effort exposes hidden opportunities for profit, provides definite competitive advantages and helps your entire organization focus daily on what makes you profit.