In our last posting we touched on the ideas of Dissatisfaction & Vision, two parts of the change formula. So let’s imagine a world where you’ve established and communicated a clear, distinct vision throughout your business, and it’s so compelling that it’s now shared by everyone in the business. You getting closer to change, but you’re still missing an important piece. The Plan. How are you going to achieve that clear, compelling Vision? If you have high Dissatisfaction and a great Vision, but no Plan, all you end up with is frustration.
How do you come up with a Plan? That’s a huge topic, but in broad terms the idea is pretty simple: Keep it simple. People have a tendency to get overwhelmed when thinking about this big Vision. Break it into parts. How are you going to achieve part 1? Part 2? Part 3? For example, if your vision is to become a company that grows 15% per year while maintaining margins, is the employer of choice in your region, provides services A, B, C to customers, etc., then attack each of those things separately. How are you going to grow? What specific actions are you going to take to achieve that growth? Once you have that plan, then work on the next part. Always focus on smaller pieces.
I can hear some snickering as some of you read this. We’ve done all those things in the past, you’re thinking. We’re Dissatisfied, we come up with a Vision, and then we Plan. And after we get the Plan done, we go back to our regular jobs and the Plan gets shoved in a drawer and we never execute. If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re not alone. Depending on which research you prefer, somewhere around 70% of business plans are never fully implemented! No wonder everyone rolls their eyes when Vision and Planning come up.
So what’s missing? Why do all those plans go for nothing?
There are lots of reasons. The main reason is a lack of accountability within most businesses. The lack of accountability has a lot of root causes. One of the most pervasive is the tendency of many people to have an external locus of control. When things don’t go well, they say things like, “We’re struggling because the economy is bad”, or “We’re having a hard time because competition has increased”, or “It’s difficult because our customers just aren’t buying”. Notice how all of those statements are focused on what others are doing. When things don’t go well, someone with an internal locus of control might say things like, “We’re struggling because when the economy went downhill we didn’t respond fast enough”; or “We’re struggling with competition because we aren’t efficient enough to be competitive”; or “Our customers aren’t buying because we don’t have a focused, cohesive marketing plan”. Notice how all of those statements are focused on what we are doing. Take responsibility for your own actions and focus on what you’re going to do – implement your Plan.
Do you implement your plans? Do you have an internal or external locus of control? When you’ve failed in the past, what caused that failure? You & your actions? Or something beyond your control?