To write is human, to edit is divine. —Stephen King
Let’s revisit the Stephen King quote above to expand on an essential assumption buried in last week’s Journal post about strategic planning:
“To write is human”— we humans, especially this time of year, cannot help but “write.”
Our writing may be in words, actions or gifts. We want to write, to remember those we love and express that love through writing the traditional Christmas newsletter, throwing parties, or giving gifts. We also want others to “write” to us—to send us their letters, invite us to their parties or give us gifts. But when they do not, we can become deeply disappointed and wounded.
Today I write to those of us who own a business or are close to someone who does. If our business could “write” to us, what might s/he say? Let’s listen to what one business might say to her owner:
Yes, you and I had a good year. And with the “strategic planning” you did in that weekend retreat two weeks ago, next year could be even better.
But, let me be honest with you.
Where are you really taking me in 2016? I can’t see any clear signs from your “editing.” Our plan for 2016 looks like a “warmed up” version of 2015…or even, sadly, 1999. Yes, you’ll be better organized. But your “strategic plan” is way too tactical and reactive, as it is every year.
I think you don’t know what you don’t know; so, if you don’t know where you’re heading us, how can you edit anything to shape that end? Like someone once told us, “If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you’ll hit it every time.”
I think you’ve got some great ideas in your head, and your team nodded in agreement when you explained it to them on that weekend retreat after Thanksgiving. They seemed to be on board. But your team is as confused as I am. Why do you think that even your best “yes-man” sales guy just quit?
You once again told your team we’ll have a nice McMansion (so 1990s). So I’ll never understand why the foundation you had your guys dig is only big enough for a 1500 square foot bungalow.
And since you wanted to minimize your corporate tax bill, I know we’re going into 2016 without enough retained capital (or lines of credit) I need to even pay for the framing.
You’ve set up a great job for yourself, for us. Our revenue grows every year even if our balance sheet doesn’t. You keep telling me you want to work less. Yet you continue filling in for the good people you keep losing.
So, when will you let me know what you actually want us to build?
Yes, if your business could talk to you, s/he would say, “I’m confused. Since you neither know nor can articulate what I’m becoming, how can you edit?”
Strategic Planning: “….to edit is divine.” Or, as The Bard said, “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends.”
You may not know the Divinity that shapes your ends, your purposes. But your business surely wants and needs to know! This is the time of year that you must do as that Academy Award-winning film editor Michael Kahn does:
And what does he do? As Steven Spielberg’s right-hand man, he doesn’t always do what Spielberg tells him to do. He does what he thinks Spielberg really wants. He understood Spielberg’s overarching intent.
As my partner Dennis said so well in this month’s Strategic Edge newsletter:
While many businesses do wait until next year or maybe even several years, those businesses are missing out on the power of a focused and clear Strategic Business Plan. 50% of your profits are tied to strategic planning, therefore, your business may be missing out on half of the profitability that it could be generating. Every day or year that passes without a Formal Strategic Business Plan (the blueprint of your business) is lost opportunity.
Will 2016 be the year you listen to your business and create that template by which to “edit” your business—a Formal Strategic Business Plan?
- How is your current “strategic plan” different from a Formal Strategic Business Plan?
- What benefits might your firm get if you kickstart your Formal Strategic Business Plan?