Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CEO's:Make a plan. Execute a plan. Modify the plan

This economy makes leaders skittish about planning. What does the future hold? How do we prepare for the future in this volatile economy? How do we know what the right strategic investments are? The 2010 planning season is around the corner. Airlift knows it is better to have a plan and modify the plan, than to have no plan at all.

Here some planning principles you can deploy today to help you achieve your goals?

Engage a Cross-Functional thought leadership mantra
The best way to achieve a plan is to have your direct reports all play a key role in the planning process. Have a vision and some key metrics you want to achieve. Then allow the team to come together with their best thinking to develop the plan. After all they need to execute. Remember people help support what they help create.

2) Grow from your core strengths
Grow because you know who you are in the market and how you are going to compete to win. It might feel a bit scary to focus. Fear a competitor is gaining share is normal. But if you keep your team focused on the reason you are in business, new ideas can come from this thought.

3) Hold leaders accountable for their function and cross functional role in making the plan come alive – metrics
While success has many inventors and failure has none, the success of your plan will be the leadership team’s ability to make it happen. Establish quarterly reviews to check progress. Reward a job well, done, new ideas and even failures. It is the failures that will take the firm to the next level because we learn from our mistakes.

4) Keep your eyes wide open. Listen to new voices. Get outsiders in to help.
Once the plan is underway, it is possible a competitor comes out with a shiny new penny that can be distractive. Stay the course. If you assessed the market right going in, you can still achieve the plan despite a competitive entry in the market. However, when we get complacent and think we have all the answers, we may miss a new insight or idea. Stay open minded but keep the team focused to win. Brands like
Daily Candy help leaders see first hand what consumers look for in new ideas.

5) Be ready to change the plan on a dime
A year ago, none of us would have predicted
GM would be in this financial situation or a brand like Pontiac would seek to exist. We must be ready to change if the market presents dramatic new market conditions.

Finally, make time to celebrate even the small wins. Executing a plan is a marathon and even your senior people need to know you notice their contributions.

What are some best practices you have deployed for planning?
What works? What does not work?

Give us a shout so we can share your great planning tips. Comment in our blog, e mail at or give us a call.

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