Business Planning: 12 Common Mistakes
Albert Einstein once pointed out “a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”. This article profiles 12 common mistakes made in business planning.
1. The timeframe of the plan is too long
While business strategies should be expected to be steady and relatively unchanged for a longer period of time, strategic plans need to remain focused on accomplishing strategic priorities in a timely manner. The plans also need frequent refreshing to keep them from becoming stale and to keep the organisation energised on plan execution. Long-term planning certainly has its place in a corporate world, but shorter operational plan horizons, going only 12 months out, allow organizations to utilise valuable current information and remain engaged in delivering to the milestones.
A rolling 12-month plan that is updated on a quarterly basis offers more value in several ways. As long-term plan goals are partially or fully met, the operational component of the plan moves forward and is refreshed with more accurate and updated information for the coming 12 months. New objectives and initiatives move up as others are completed. This provides actionable data for managers to work from during budgeting and gives a more realistic sense of actual plan momentum and progress.
2. Too many strategic goals
Businesses often have a long wish list of goals, ranging from pie-in-the-sky to mundane. Dreaming up goals is generally not a challenge. Instead, the challenge is having the discipline to narrow down prioritised goals to a manageable and achievable level.
Five goals is a good number to consider as a maximum. When you consider that each goal will lead to a sequence of programmes, initiatives, activities and deliverables that will need to be managed and implemented, it’s easy to see how a long list of goals can inhibit implementation success.
3. Goals not tied to measurable outcomes
Business goals should be constructed in terms of outcomes that will mean something tangible to customers and employees. Likewise, goals should be defined in such a way that they can be measured and managed throughout the layers of the organisation. Goals should help propel action and achievement from the managers and workers who are involved in accomplishing them. These principles make the adoption of OKRs all the more compelling.