THE ONE PAGE PLAN – IX
Without a Plan your business efforts will be like a sailboat sailing across then Ocean without a rudder. Every thriving business is lead by a smart and powerful group of managers, who sail along the seas of success and know where they have been, where are they now and where they are going. They are leading, not drifting and being blown in every direction by the wind – that will take charge – if you allow that to happen.
THE ONE PAGE PLAN is designed to avoid lengthy and full of content 2”-3” Plan Binders that nobody has the time to read no less try to implement. In my Corporate experience, I have spent significant time each 1st quarter of the year developing plans that get thicker each time and have to be completed to the fullest whether your area of the business contributes 3% or 80% of revenue and profits. Instead of focusing on serving the Customer and generating new business , we were slaves working for the Finance department preparing lengthy and tedious plans that nobody read or ever used. What a waste of time- a ONE PAGE PLAN listing important objectives and strategies for that department and followed-up frequently would have sufficed. The following represents key areas of the Plan, and keep in mind that you need to use as few words as possible to describe an area, and to limit the points for each area to no more than ten (10).
LEADING THE PLAN IS A SWOT ANALYSIS
We covered the need for a SWOT analysis as a separate BLOG (#8). Therefore, if you need any clarification, please contact us.
Core Values represent the fundamental, passionate and enduring principles that guide its overall conduct over a period of time. Core Values are timeless and should not change due to short-term financial, operational or marketing concerns. To be effective, an organizations Core Values must be communicated, and supported by its Top Management and all the Employees, if not, they are just hollow words that exist and have no meaning. How many Sales Reps and Sales Managers know their Core Values Statement and take Pride in utilizing it as part of their total sales effort?
There are organizations that spend countless hours, days and even months working on refining every word in the Mission Statement which usually gets little exposure relative to the combined hours it takes to develop. Throughout my corporate career, the Mission Statement for the area I was leading was as follows: CUSTOMERS SUCCESS IS OUR SUCCESS! What else do you need to say?
Should not exceed 10 for a Department, Division or Company. The number 10
is derived from an army infantry squad in the military attacking a hill – the sergeant leading the attack could not be heard if there were more than 10 soldiers in the squad. This is a way of introducing the need for realistic span of controls which will be covered in a separate BLOG. Therefore, if each of the key areas of an organization have 10 quantifiable and measurable objectives in their One Page Plans and the Master Plan has to have an identical requirement of 10 objectives, you can see how the prioritization of all the objectives will result in the Sales Manager being heard, but also assuring that the objectives are quantifiable, (in most instances) measurable, achievable and representing existing and future requirements of growth and profitability. Here are some examples of quantifiable and measurable objectives:
- Identify and Eliminate 3 Silos per quarter
- Meet and exceed quantifiable quotas
- Improve Quality Measurements: From ___ % To ___ %
- Reduce Expenses by ___ %
- Add More Staff in Mktg. & Finance
- Adopt & Implement latest Technology in ___
- Introduce 3 new products
- Improve Customer Survey Results: From ___ %To ___ %
- Establish & Implement 3 Benchmark programs
- Establish Customer Visit Programs 2 Departments
STRATEGIES – HOW?
Against a large number of quantifiable and measurable objectives, please ascribe a specific strategy (no more than 2) that will be used to meet and exceed a specific objective. This will be a difficult process due to the fact that numerous strategies will be candidates, but the final decision will rest on facts such as affordability, sustainability, timeliness, competition and profitability. This part of the plan, while difficult, will make sure that all available strategies will be reviewed and evaluated. This step approaches real planning and harnesses the power of a host of support and related functions. Everyone plans and the “SILO” mentality will be minimized when they see how important a role each area of the business plays in serving the Customer.
IMPLEMENTATION – WHEN WILL IT BE DONE? BY WHOM?
This area will also have degrees of difficulty due to having to assign completion dates and place names behind each implementation step that will support the strategies used to get the job done. That’s called accountability and represents a person not a group or a team. Team is a 4 letter word! These requirements will result in prioritizing and assigning responsibilities to those individuals who everyone will have a chance to review their strengths and identify their weakness. One of my personal Corporate assignments was to launch a desk-top computer line which would go up against Commodore and Apple early in the phenomenal growth of computer power at the end-user level, and I was put in charge of the entire operation. Why assign that responsibility to me? A person who didn’t have an ounce of knowledge about computers, technical knowledge of all related hardware, as well as varieties of software, nor the technical support required to introduce this product. The lack of planning caused an extreme disaster which resulted in excess of $5MM loss in revenue. If we would have developed a ONE PAGE PLAN involving all key areas of the Company we would have clearly seen that the price for getting into the computer was extremely high – better left to tech companies already in the computer business. We had no business being in that industry. We were a small yet growing company featuring innovative but mostly low tech document finishing equipment with the profits resulting from the supply usage by a wide range of Customers on a global basis. Instead top management chose the Desk-top computer, ordered it and appointed me to launch the project right there and then. I accepted the position because I felt that I had enough success with product launches at my previous employer.
As indicated, a business needs to plan, but avoid a process driven environment that only the financial people understand. Planning has to take place at all levels, and above all has to eliminate “SILOS” and create” Win-Win” strategies.
This area represents one of the most overlooked areas of planning and must include Upside and Downside contingency plans. You would be surprised at the number of companies losing extensive amounts of revenues and experiencing disastrous long term impacts to their businesses. The contingency plans should focus on having an alternative strategy in place if an event is of a size or nature that will cause significant changes in meeting and exceeding Customer Service Levels which will affect their business. Let’s look at a few amongst many Upside and Downside Contingency events that I have witnessed and been part of.
Recently I was consulting a startup company that was formed by a Student in my Business 101 class at Harper College who spent four tours in Iraq and Iran and recently discharged as a Drill Sergeant from Ft. Benning, GA.. We aimed our business primarily at Active and Inactive Military Personnel. However, in our second year of business, we decided that a month or so before the tragic 9/11 date we would test market a T-Shirt (Apparel) showing the previously standing twin towers in NY with each tower forming the number 1 through the addition of a slanted line from the top of the tower. We were overwhelmed, the first day, and days thereafter, with thousands of orders. We simply weren’t prepared to handle this size of order volume that had to be in the hands of Customers before 9/11, and would have a negative impact if received after that vitally important date. In addition, we just couldn’t abandon our regular orders, because as a start-up we valued all of our Customer business equally. Limited manpower, raw materials, machine time and numerous other factors said that we simply couldn’t make the shirts needed to fill our orders. We accepted the orders, but we contacted each of the Customers that had placed a 9/11 shirt order, thanked them and explained our situation in an honest manner, promised to get out as many shirts as possible to get there in time, even if we had to ship them over-night by air, and promised free shirts and/or coupons towards added purchases to those who would not receive them on time.
Lessons learned: 1. Don’t age a product by date without allowing for adequate time. 2. Take immediate action to correct. 3. Provide consideration of some type, “Free” is a good 4 Letter word. 4. Make sure you are answering “What’s In It For Them”? 5. People find it difficult to refuse a win-win situation. 6. Be realistic and face taking a loss – overnight freight, end free shirts etc.. Due to enacting all these actions we suffered very few order cancellations, but we did face losses which were offset by Customer satisfaction and retention.
List major disruptive items such as weather, war, riots, political upheavals, or possible increases in costs due to increases in health costs, taxes and other regulations such as tariffs over which you have little or no control. Consider any possible major threats to the five concerns you must keep high on your management list: 1.Employees 2. Customers 3.Suppliers 4. Stockholders 5.If the company is not public , YOURSELF.
Develop alternative strategies that you can employ should any of these special contingencies arise. For example; Metallic Red Paint which was supplied to most car manufacturers, by one major firm, located only in Japan, that was recently destroyed by a Tsunami. Most major car manufacturers in the world were using this special red paint – we can’t even start to imagine the losses due to the unavailability of this paint plus the Goodwill lost to unhappy Customers who in most instances did not wait for the Metallic Red Paint to be supplied.
Why did it take BP OIL 90+ days to shut-off an oil pipe on a Gulf of Mexico platform that was disrupted by a large explosion. You would think that BP would have had a contingency plan for an Oil Rig Platform to explode and to contain oil from this type of an event! Instead BP showed the oil gushing from the pipe into the Gulf 24/7 on every major TV station in the US. The end of the world had arrived, no food, no wildlife, no water, and total disruption to a major industry – fishing – in all major oceans. BP could not show hat they had a contingency plan in place – no matter how many times they cited that this was the first of such platform explosions and ongoing fires and spillage. So what? It was statements like the above by Management, that allowed BP to be tarnished by law suits resulting in losses of Billions of Dollars.
We know that this ONE PAGE PLAN outline will provide the rudder to your ship of “success” setting a course for continued growth and profitability. Imagine a ONE PAGE PLAN roll-up to top management asking them and the board to identify the priorities and approve the direction and approval for the What-How-When–Who. When finished, each department and division presents their plan to the employees and then the overall ONE PAGE PLAN is presented company wide. Not only will you have a plan, but the channels of communication will be established while providing the highest level of transparency possible.
The plan should be reviewed often (quarterly) at all levels. If the PLAN is not working. change it immediately. If the PLAN is working, reward and praise the employees for a job well done at their level, and the importance of that “EXCELLENCE” to the increased revenue and profitability of the business. Make it a big event with top management in attendance – keep in mind – “IT STARTS AND END WITH MANAGEMENT’