If we expect the strategic plan we write for our business to succeed, we must accept responsibility for the changes that may need to take place within us as the owner and principal author of the plan.
Writing our plan is arguably the easiest part of the strategic planning process, although it makes most small business owners a bit uncomfortable. This is where we dream big dreams about the future of our business. It’s in the execution phase—the following through—where most of us get tripped up.
The execution phase is where the four fundamental disciplines play such an important role in helping not only our business to grow but us to grow as a business leader.
The first discipline is Accountability. This starts with our accountability to the people in our company. Business owners are quick to talk about accountability as it applies to our people doing the jobs they’re being paid to do. But accountability is a two-way street.
As business owners we’re accountable to follow through on our plan, especially if we’ve involved others from our organization in writing it. And even more so if our name is attached to items on the plan.
Even if our plan isn’t written and we’ve merely talked about what we want to achieve with our company, we’re still accountable to follow through on those statements.
The second is Discipline. As I’ve written in the past, discipline means maintaining the self-control to stay focused on the objectives we’ve established in our plan. This can be tough, especially if things in the company aren’t going as intended and we’re tempted to throw our hands in the air and question the value of having a plan at all. But it can be just as tough when things are going exceptionally well.
When our company is experiencing rapid growth beyond what we had planned, it can be hard to stay focused on anything. But with growth, fast or slow, it’s critical to occasionally remind ourselves of our long-term vision and the route we were planning to take to get there. Otherwise, we may end up someplace we never planned to be.
Next is Humility. Business owners and people in positions of authority are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to humility. It’s easy to get caught up in believing we had more to do with our success than we actually did, so remember that no business is built in a vacuum. It’s only through the efforts of the people we surround ourselves with that we’re able to achieve success.
The last discipline is Perspective. While it took a near-death experience to bring a deep sense of perspective to the attendee in the back of the room, it’s a healthy practice for us to regularly remind ourselves of just how fortunate we are to be where we are, doing what we’re doing, with the people who are supporting us. We should also remember that we don’t have a countless number of months to accomplish the things we want to accomplish. Finally, we should be mindful that our strategic plan has as much to do with what we need to do for our business as what we want it to do for us.