How important is Planning in Business and in Life?

To simplify, I will put it like this: Imagine yourself living with no strategy, ambitions, goals to achieve, and missions to complete. You will be a human being without a soul!

Storytime: I was like this with no goals or unrealistic ones without a strategy or again if I had it must have been unclear. I was living like a zombie for 5 years trying to find moments of peace and silence.

When all of a sudden it hit me, what if I had an ACTUAL plan of my life in 5 years’ time? Long story short my planning led me to move out and change countries. Simple as that, I just went for it.

Whatever I was planning ahead that included me staying in the same country just didn’t match with my ambitions and goals. In the conclusion of this short story, I just wanted to point out that without planning even in your personal life nothing essential will come out. Same as in businesses, with no planning you cannot share the importance, the vision(s), the difference, the objectives, the achievements you set out to reach.

From my perspective I see five points on why an organization or a company needs a strategy regardless their aims or missions:

Prioritize

  • First and foremost, you need a strategy to set a direction and establish priorities for your company. The direction will define your visions and the priorities the actions you need to take to make these visions a reality.

Simplifies decisions

  • Secondly, having a strategy set in mind, decision-making will be simplified and more easily done since the goals or objectives are clear to everyone and the decision-makers.

Maximize performance

  • Also, in your organization, you may have people working hard but with no effect, because without a strategy, they are not following a scheduled and prioritized plan resulting in not maximizing their efforts.

Communication

  • Having and understanding all the parts of the strategy are vital to better communicate the “message” to others that are working with you towards the same path of the company’s success.

Strategic thinking vs. planning

The difference between strategic planning and strategic thinking is simple. Strategic thinking’s purpose is when we imagine or envision the future of the organization to rewrite and develop strategies that have a greater chance of success and competitive advantage. To think strategically you answer the questions “what?” and “why?”.

As opposed to that, strategic planning is when you lay down the plans to achieve the visioning by answering the questions “how?”, “when?” and “to whom”. It includes the steps your organization needs to take.

Instantly when I think “strategy” it comes to mind the strategic video and non-video games I used to play when I was little. When you had to figure out your next move to crush the competition and win the game. This is no different than leading a company only that this is real life.

Thinking of strategy now also brings images of people working together brainstorming and being creative when setting the foundations called planning. In my opinion, the best way to transfer the vision from a few to the many is by setting a story behind it.

Stories are what make people empathize with each other and the company’s vision. Share a story on what makes this company and how do you see it in the future and people will share with you their thoughts and empathy. The rest will fall into place.

Vision in Strategic Planning

When I think about strategically planning a marketing campaign or a sales plan or even a financially driven plan about a promotion, I immediately think of: “What are my goals, what I want to achieve, and what have I envisioned to succeed in the future?”. So, what I first do is to set off what I want to achieve with this action, what is my vision? I believe vision is a concept in which we fantasize ourselves, the company, or others inside of it or a project, into what can I or we achieve out it. Besides, we can say vision in strategic planning is there to inspire us and to provide a roadmap to the future for the people that work with us. Eventually, we can easily translate that vision is based upon our imagination and our needs and wants for the future.

Planning is everything

Dwight Eisenhower said that “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”. A statement that confuses everybody that reads it and has many meanings. From my point of view, I agree that plans are something that fluctuates all the time, and you cannot rely on them entirely. But, when I think of planning and combining it with the concept of vision, I can see what he was talking about. Plans are looked at objectively but planning is something imaginary. So, when planning a strategy, you are immediately called to action and that is to imagine or look ahead of what do you want to get out of it. That is called vision.

Ultimately, I believe that you need to first see where you see yourself (company, etc.) in five, ten, or fifteen years from now and then start to work backward, year by year, and strategically planning your way to what you have envisioned yourself.

Involving staff in visioning

Sharing the company’s vision with the people that work WITH you (and not for you, don’t get confused here) is vital for the company’s growth, smooth operation, and creation of value between the management and the personnel. The most important tool for this is storytelling. The best way to share your vision is by sharing the story behind it. Right now, there is nothing more important at creating value than that of stories and the language they are used to be told. There is this thing called internal marketing that people in HR are familiar with. It basically includes the idea of marketing between the management (company) and the staff. Including your staff in the company’s vision creates tons of value for them and for you. It’s a win-win strategy. I will say it again, you need to give them to understand that they are working with you into achieving the company’s vision and absolutely not for you. Resulting in your employees translating this vision into something else and thus not transferring the value to your end customer. Think about the consequences that have on your sales, growth, market share, etc.