By Martin Evangelista
No, this is not a typo.
I write this now, January 2015, not contemplating what would happen to our respective organization from February to December this year. That’s already been done, last year, well before we said goodbye to 2014.
Today we think about 2016.
Business planning is more than sitting down and listing what you want to do for a particular time period. It is a complex series of looking back, looking inside, looking around, looking ahead, and looking among yourselves, with a lot of business insight and a dash of hopefulness besides. This entire process takes more than a year from planning to execution to evaluation, and this is why early on in 2015, our minds should not really be here anymore: specifically, 2016.
These are some of the more common ways by which successful business organizations undertake their planning process:
1. They look back.
Looking back means recalling and specifying the decisions you made and what these decisions’ outcomes were. Of course, not all decisions yielded positive results. Take note of these, too. Ask yourself the following questions:
• What were our major accomplishments in the last 12 months?
• What were our failures for the same period?
• In what areas did our organization appear to stagnate?
• How do these accomplishments and failures relate to the plans that we had set out the year before?
• What was the reason that we achieved these results? That we did not?
• Were there any surprises that we did not anticipate?
2. They look inside.
The most successful organizations — or individuals, for that matter — are those who are self-aware and who know where their strengths and weaknesses lie. The following questions might be helpful:
• What are the inherent strengths of our people and our organization?
• What are the areas where we can do better?
• How have these strengths and weaknesses shape us into what and where we are right now?
• How can we boost our advantage, maintain our strengths and work on our weaknesses?
3. They look around.
Opportunities and threats are all over us, and being aware of these external issues will enhance the organization’s chances of succeeding in the long term. The following questions will be helpful in assessing the environment:
• What are the trends and patterns in the industry to which our business belongs?
• How is the competition addressing these trends and patterns?
• How vulnerable is the company to external shocks like the general economy or political shifts?
• How can the organization take advantage of industry trends?
• How can it prepare for the threats?
4. They look ahead.
A clear assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats allows the business organization to be able to identify where it is. The next step is determining where it intends to go.
The following questions will be helpful in setting short-, medium- and long-range goals.
• What is our vision for the organization? What shall it be and how do we see it in the next 10, 20 years?
• What is our mission? What is the essence of what we want to do?
• What are the core values that would propel our business into achieving this mission and its vision of itself? If the organization were an individual, these core values are the virtues by which it will be known and remembered.
• Where do we see ourselves in three to five years? Next year? What are the measurable criteria by which we could say we were successful, or not?
• And most importantly, what are the steps we need to take to achieve these short-, medium- and long-terms goals?
5. They look among themselves.
According to the Lego movie, “Everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.” That does not just hold true for toys. It is also true for business organizations.
• Get to know the members of your team whether your team is big or small, beyond their names, ranks and faces.
• If you are a leader or in some leadership capacity, take the time to get to know your subordinates’ personal circumstances, their interests and background, and their main contribution to the organization.
• Foster a spirit of teamwork without cramping their individual expertise and creativity.
• Show genuine concern about their work-life balance. If they are happy with their personal lives, it will reflect in their work, and the organization will be all the better for it.
As a leader of my own team, I have had my share of challenges and difficulties in planning and implementing what we have planned. Despite these, I have always been heartened by the fact that organization and foresight have always ensured that we navigate the unknown with some advantage.
While we cannot predict all of the things that will happen in the future, we can prepare for it well, and the best time to start is…yesterday.
To great times ahead!
Martin is the Director of Global Operations of CloudTech, managing the headquarters of the organization, in the Philippines. He is an ERP professional with 15 years of experience in sales, presales and consulting. He has managed the Business Operations of leading ERP Consulting Companies in the Philippines. He enjoys the challenge of building organizations – from conception to operations to growth. He is seen by his subordinates, colleagues and clients not only as a game-changer, but a game-maker.