Five Strategic Planning Myths Debunked
Common misconceptions you need to know.
1) Planning is an Annual Process
Think you can plan once a year? Think again! Continuous improvement requires constant evaluation and planning. In fact, operational efficiency relies on it! We recommend that after each significant seasonal operation, that you perform a lessons-learned review, with the information retained for next season’s operational planning.
For example, Spring Clean-Up. Don’t wait until next Spring to try to remember all of the issues that could have been handled better this last time. Document the details and the process in a debriefing season with your team, identify the problems and solutions, create contingency scenarios and be ready to implement them next time around. Remember, being pro-active costs a lot less than damage control.
2) Planning is a late December/January Process
The time to plan for next year is now! Many companies wind down slowly and need a break, planning starts in late December or January. We believe that some of the best time to implement new systems and ideas is during the slow time around the holidays. Therefore if you have laid out your plans in advance you can be working on implementation during that time.
3) Senior Managers and Owners Should Develop Company Plans
While senior managers and owners should provide overall direction, I believe that each department should take a hard look at itself and what is needed to achieve continual improvement. Your whole team needs to be engaged in the plan. Departments should be looked at in a company with all key people being able to weigh in on all departments. Departments tend to gloss over internal problems and need the eyes of others to objectively look at their performance. The team needs to be successful together and all departments need each other.
4) Our operations have always been strong so we should focus on growth
During periods of rapid growth, things can get out of control – especially if planning has been inadequate. Operations are vulnerable to deterioration for many reasons, not the least of which is a gradual decline in competence. For example, when promoted employees are replaced with others who may be less competent or experienced, it can gradually erode your competency base.
To overcome this problem it is necessary to instill best practice programs throughout your operation. These become the foundation for your company’s way of doing things. If you don’t these practices currently in place, be sure to develop and integrate them as part of your planning process and establish ground rules to optimize efficiency and quality.
5) In this industry, it is next to impossible to plan due to weather, and you never know what contracts you have until the last minute.
Wrong. Weather plays a role in every landscape company’s daily drill and both Mother Nature and the economy can throw you a monstrous curve ball if you’re not prepared. Ours is a seasonal business and you can’t survive for very long without contingency planning in place for the unexpected. Web-based information programs are available today that make weather forecasting simple. Research the likelihood of various weather patterns that might affect seasonal operations. Is there an El Nino forming in the Pacific, expectations for extreme heat, drought, or unseasonal rains which will affect your extension your business? What was weather like in your market in the storm or drought? How did it affect operations? How did it affect your customers? What could you have done differently?
What is your lack of a strategic plan costing you?