I have a Plan, We Discussed it, Nothing Happened.


We’ve all heard to old adage “Plan your work and work your plan.” Most businesses have a plan, many do not. In my experience, the lack of a plan happens because:

  • The business leader doesn’t know how to create a plan from ideas
  • The business had a plan and nothing was ever done with it. As a result, the business sees no value in plans.

The development of a plan is a relatively simple process. It involves:

  1. Defining the scope or purpose of your plan. For example, launch a new product, service or grow the business.
  2. Identify the target of your plan. For example, businesses, individual consumers, etc.
  3. Set measurable goals or outcomes for the plan. These could be individual steps, financial goals, the number of new customers etc. The key is to have a measurable goal or outcome.

In short, that is the plan development process. Many businesses have done this either formally or informally. The have an idea, they have crafted out how they want to do something and they have some type of goal or outcome in mind from the activity.

Then, nothing else really happens.

They might buy inventory, they might begin a process but along the way, the entire plan or idea collapses on itself. Nothing comes of it. After a few times of doing this, everyone stops planning and simply starts “to go with the flow”, to do what seems like the easiest thing right now. Other versions of this become “don’t make waves” and “don’t stand out, just fit in.” Regardless, nothing happens.

It is said that Einstein wrote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So instead of making a plan and doing nothing, why not make a plan and then execute that plan?

The Business Dictionary defines Executing as the “capacity to complete assigned tasks and responsibilities to customary or specified standards within a certain timeframe.”  In other words, make the plan happen by actually doing something active with it.

How do you execute your plan; make it work?

  1. Write your plan down. If it isn’t in writing it isn’t a plan.
  2. Pick an exact date to begin your plan. Literally, “I will begin MONDAY” or some other date. If you don’t commit to it, it will not happen.
  3. Always review your plan, at least once a week. Make sure you understand what is to be done and what is impacted by other parts of your plan.
  4. Divide your plan into calendar parts. In other words, break the plan down into digestible pieces. Like eating an elephant your plan is accomplished one bite at a time.
  5. When you establish your time frame in step 4, include due dates for each of the steps. Creating measurable milestones help keep your plan on schedule.
  6. Accountability is critical for any plan. Not only must you hold those involved in executing your plan accountable you yourself must be held accountable. Whether that is your Business partner, Your Spouse or your Business Advisor/Consultant, find someone to help hold you accountable.
  7. Develop key outcome measurables. Some way of factually identifying if the plan is working as you envisioned. Sales, reduction in costs, productivity. Some number that removes “feelings and emotion” from your decision process and injects the reality of facts. At no time should you make business decisions on emotion or feelings?
  8. Make your plan execution a priority and do it every day. Executing a plan isn’t a sometimes thing nor is it an “at the end of the day” thing. It should be a priority of your business.
  9. Plan execution cannot be done solo. You must have help. Whether that is a member of your team or an external resource such as your Business Advisor/Consultant, those other eyes and efforts will help ensure a successful plan outcome.
  10. Trust the process. It is your plan and you not only need to believe in it, you must also trust the process you use to make your plan happen.

Simply having a plan is not enough. Further, sitting around and talking about a plan, a process or an idea isn’t any more a plan than it is a way to make your business better. You have to go further, and for some, that is much further. You must execute that plan, measure it, rework it as necessary and continue with the execution. Without that, it is simply words and at best words on a piece of paper.

Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Your business and your plan for the business is an opportunity that will be missed if you don’t work on it, or you don’t execute it.