Why business or career plans are often not enough to succeed

For many sports fans, September is what’s proverbially called the “pointy end of the season” in Australia. For some clubs and supporters it’s been a successful year and for others it is a year of ‘almost’ or ‘just forget it’.

When we look at the competition ladders and see the spread of teams we often ask “what is the difference between those at the top and those at the bottom?” The same theory applies as to why some managers or businesses stand out.

In my opinion it’s because top teams develop comprehensive game plans. They plan for different battles under differing circumstances. Most people might say “well I have a business plan or a career plan so what’s the difference?”

Traditional business and career plans can often be quite rigid and suffer from a lack of peripheral vision; they don’t take into account the ups and downs. Business plans can be quite static when what’s needed is in fact a dynamic action plan.

A great example is the 'Swifts' coming back after a loss to New Zealand in the preliminary rounds to take out the World Netball Championships.

I had the pleasure of meeting with a passionate business couple this week who, after owning their business for three years, had been through some tough times and made some controversial changes to their operation. Despite the challenges, they were still full of enthusiasm with big plans for the future.

I have also worked with many organisations and senior executives who stand out from the crowd and are known as go getters because they have great plans for their projects and goals.

A good game plan will be well thought out, have a degree of flexibility and include consideration of key stakeholders. My thinking is there are several key things things to ponder when developing a good game plan.

Know your supporters and detractors. Sports teams with generic tactics can only get so far in a season. When it comes to achieving at the top level, subtle differences in tactics and approaches can make all the difference. If you are trying to achieve an outcome for your organisation you must know the ‘who, what, where, when and how’ to achieve your goals.

Vary your approach. If you are dealing with disparate stakeholders make sure you tailor delivery to each individual or group. This could be as simple as varying your communication style or delivery method.

Think the worst to achieve the best. A good game plan will cover not only the ‘expected’ outcomes but will also incorporate plans for the things that can go wrong. Expect things to go wrong and be prepared to respond.

Be clear about the outcomes. Successful plans include milestones, costings and contingencies, backed up by clear messages of what will be achieved and the roles everyone will play.

Manage expectations. Try to understand the motivations and outlook of all involved. Ask people about their perceptions of your approach or project outcomes. You will be surprised at how people can make varying assumptions even when sitting in the same presentation or planning meeting.

Know your strengths and limitations. A good executive or board member will know what they are good at and bring in expertise when needed. Seeking help is a sign of strength not weakness.

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robert @ leadingforpurpose . com . au

Amplify Me Pty Ltd trading as

Leading For Purpose