There’s an old mantra that says: “Plan your work and work your plan.” It’s so elegant in its simplicity that it is amazing to learn that thousands of managers don’t live up to these two basic tenets when looking at their organization’s future. Let’s look at why they don’t and why they should.

  1. I’m too busy. I couldn’t possibly find time to put a plan together.

Ha! Good one! If a manager thinks she or he is too busy to put together a strategic plan, then he or she has mis-prioritized their work. A manager has only two jobs…manage the people and manage the business. The only way to effectively manage the business is to build a strategic plan to guide its future.

  1. I’m not sure where to take the organization.

Fair enough. There is no embarrassment in that. Leading a company or division of a company can be a lonely, torturous trek; but it needn’t be. Nor should it be. The best managers do not plan in a vacuum. They use others – both inside and outside their organizations – to help shape the future.

  1. I’m not sure what to include in the plan or how long it should be.

Abraham Lincoln said it best. When asked how long a person’s legs should be, he responded: “Long enough to reach the ground.” How long should a strategic plan be? Long enough to get the job done. What belongs in a plan? That’s a little more complex and nuanced. Every plan is a little different as every manager and organization has different needs. The contents of the plan should reflect the critical success factors of the organization. Our team often helps organizations focus on the right success factors in building a measurable plan.

So, you are going to start on that plan, right? It’s January and time’s a-wasting. Get after it, today. As we said earlier, you don’t have to go it alone. We can help you build it to make sure you are truly following a charted vision.

If you already have a strategic plan, do you know where it is? If this answer is “I’m not sure” or if your plan is not dog-eared at the end of the year, then you have failed on the second half of the mantra. If you are truly “working your plan”, it should be at your fingertips and in front of your team on a regular basis. Make a plan and work the plan. It’s that simple – and possibly the two most important things you can do to ensure your success.