One month into the year …

Are things going according to this year's original plan?

If your answer is “yes” … congratulations!  You have managed to do better than most businesses, as most businesses face uncertainties during the year that will already have caused turbulence for the original plan.  And a warning:  are you sure there are no changes needed to the plan?  If your business is in a changing market or environment, then following the original plan on cruise control can be a dangerous thing.  Make sure you are really looking for potential change both now and down the road.

If your answer is “no” … congratulations if you are dealing with reality of change around you and making changes to your plans as you go.  Remember that planning under uncertainty results in plans that are more assumption-based than fact.  Execution of the plans and quickly testing assumptions will help you correct the trajectory and stay on a profitable path.

If your answer is “no” but not because of external factors or plan assumptions, then what is causing the change?  Are business operations chaotic or unpredictable?  Then do the work to establish consistency.  Without a sufficiently consistent baseline, making improvements or executing plans will be practically useless as there is no way to tell if any of the improvements or plans made any difference or if results are merely due to inconsistency.

If your answer is “I don’t know” … then quickly find out.  For most businesses, markets and other factors can change faster than the old annual or semiannual or even quarterly review of the annual plan.  Set up processes to get the data you need to see how the currents and winds are moving around your business ship and adjust accordingly and more frequently.

Think about this now as time flies!


By Mike Russell