It’s astonishing how many businesses don’t have a plan for the future direction. And it’s astonishing how many don’t know how to develop such a plan.
As efficiency experts, we get it. We know it can be challenging for businesses to see the forest for the trees when everyone is on the ground immersed in day-to-day operations. Yet without a plan, businesses remain lost, losing money, missing opportunities and watching morale disappear.
An owner of a mid-sized business called one day, desperate for help. He didn’t know which way to turn.
We met with the business owner and brain stormed around these questions:
- Why did you decide to go into business?
- What has made you successful?
- Who are your biggest supporters?
- What type of culture have your created?
- What short-term goals would you like to achieve? What about mid-term and long-term?
- What are your personal goals?
We also met with the Executive Team and asked a range of questions to ensure everyone was at the same starting point:
- What do you like about your role?
- What challenges restrict you from performing in your role?
- What are the challenges you face that restrict you from doing your role?
- What improvements do you think would help you perform at a higher-level?
- What culture does the business have?
- How do you see the future of the business?
These 360 reviews threw up common themes that had to be resolved. The Executive Team members felt:
- they lacked the resources to perform at the top of their game
- the business was being held back because of conflicting priorities
- there was little to no understanding of individual roles and responsibilities
- lack of processes and procedures were interfering with productivity
- new team members weren’t properly inducted or trained
- that business priorities were unclear
- there was conflict among management team members
- they were tired of having the same conversations around the same issues and not advancing.
No wonder no one could see the forest for the trees.
As independent efficiency experts, we are free from the daily grind of the businesses we help. This means we can move quickly and efficiently. It also means we can cut through and provide honest and open feedback in a non-threatening way, at all levels of a business.
Armed with the results of the 360-degree reviews, we debriefed with the business owner and told him his team was desperate for a strategic business plan. He was surprised. He had no idea. We were surprised. We had no idea he had no idea. However, we understood that this busy business owner had been expending massive effort into growing the business. He had forgotten to stop, reflect, communicate and develop the plan needed to move the team into the clear. He was—as the old adage goes—working in the business not on the business.
So how did it all go?
Due to time constraints—and wanting to keep the team free to service clients and bring in new ones—we stayed on deck for several months. During this time, we worked with individuals in small batches of time to refine the vision, mission and values the business stood for.
We also worked with the business to recalibrate, ensuring everyone was clear on fundamentals and on how to move forward.
We developed a strategic business plan, based on everyone’s valuable input. The plan included adjustments to the organisational structure and putting training in place to build capacity from within. We also implemented other straightforward efficiencies.
When the plan was presented, everyone could see how much they had contributed. Everyone had buy-in. Passion for the business grew. Productivity grew. Profitability grew. The business managed to save just under $300,000 along the way and it did so after paying for my efficiency expert services.
Everyone could finally see the forest, not just the trees.