This past Friday at our Strategic Planning Forum, our attendees learned that strategic planning serves a variety of purposes in organizations. We discussed several phases of planning: the Discovery Phase, the Opportunity Phase, and the Implementation Phase. We know that business planning takes time, effort, and full participation. Sitting with your team and discovering your strengths and weaknesses will help your planning. You wouldn’t put someone who is creative in the finance department of a company. Knowing the strengths and weakness of your team is key.
September is Laser Focus Coaching business planning month. For us this is the most important month in our business year. It is also an important month for my family. Our youngest daughter is a senior and is planning now where she will attend college next year. A key to the strategy for our business at Laser Focus Coaching, as well as for my personal life, is that–in both areas–we dive into our vision of what we want to accomplish. In the business, we use vision boards to start the ideas flowing. My daughter and I also make a vision board to help her collect and organize her ideas about colleges and careers.
We know that planning is an essential part of how we learn what we need to know: who is going to be the lead person on a project, how the project will be broken down into steps, who will be responsible for the various activities, when each phase of the project will be completed, and who will be reviewing the completed project. As we get deeper into our planning activities, we divide our project into short and long term tasks and determine the actions that will be required to successfully complete each task.
Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar sums up the importance of planning on the road to success this way: “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” We’ll be talking more about preparations and expectations, but for September, we’re fixing our laser focus beam of attention on planning.
A book we would like to share with you this week that we feel supports our philosophy around planning is “Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic Principles for Managers,” by Mark R. McNeilly. Mark graduated with honors from the University of Minnesota’s MBA program and followed that with 24 years of experience in the information technology industry working for IBM. Mark currently leads the corporate branding strategy at another Fortune 500 company.
In his book, he uses strategies defined by Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese military general and strategist and then shares why it takes a special kind of leader to implement these strategic concepts and maximize the tremendous potential of employees. Among the traits of the most successful leaders, as described by Sun Tzu, are wisdom, sincerity, humanity, courage, and strictness. As Sun Tzu says, leaders must also always be “first in the toils and fatigues of the army,” putting their needs behind those of their troops. It is leaders with this kind of character who get the most out of their employees.