So how do you go about making a plan?
- Start by defining a broad vision of what your business wants to accomplish. What will the world look like if you’re successful?
- Identify the steps needed to bring that vision into reality.
- For each step, identify how you will recognize whether or not it is working. It pays to decide upon your metrics before the pressure is on, and to identify the signs of trouble as early as possible. Jesse Livermore never bought a stock without deciding in advance the conditions under which he’d sell it, whether for a profit or a loss. As a result, his losses were small and his profits large.
- Break those steps down into activities that can be done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
- Define appropriate checkpoints where you can evaluate progress and determine whether or not your plan is working. Remember to allow sufficient time to collect enough data to make a good decision. Evaluating before you have enough information is an excellent way to abandon a successful plan before it has time to pay off.
- Execute your plan, day in and day out. You measure your own success or failure by whether or not you stuck to the plan.
- Constantly review and revise your plan as you learn more. Failures of the plan are simply an opportunity to evaluate and adjust.
When we fail, it can be difficult indeed to get up and try again. But when the plan fails, it’s relatively simple to modify it and keep going.
What’s your plan?
Stephen Balzac is an expert on leadership and organizational development. A consultant, author, and professional speaker, he is president of 7 Steps Ahead, an organizational development firm focused on helping businesses get unstuck. Steve is the author of “The 36-Hour Course in Organizational Development,” published by McGraw-Hill, and a contributing author to volume one of “Ethics and Game Design: Teaching Values Through Play.” For more information, visit www.7stepsahead.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.