Member Blog- The Future of Business Planning (and Implementation!)

Written By  Ewan Menzies- Mount Parnassus Partnership Ltd- 

For as long as I can remember business planning has always been the same. You analyze the opportunities, set aims, write a detailed plan, implement, evaluate and start again.

Meanwhile, everything else is evolving; from phones and computers to communication and travel, remote working and the internet. Could you imagine using one of those old computers now having experienced that latest Apple, Dell or Lenovo! This old computer is what you are currently getting in terms of business planning.

So here is how I see the future of business planning. Just like everything else, it will be alomst unrecognisable compared to its previous form and will transform business planning into something we all love, is easy for all to understand, creates a step change in growth, and actually gets implemented. Imagine that!

Here are the 7 changes I see in for business planning in the future.

1. We all work from the outcome back

Traditionally we have always done forward planning. In the future, everyone will plan from the outcome backward. In doing so the focus will always be on delivering the needs of stakeholders.

Life must be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards.” – Soren Kierkegaard

In doing so you will benefit from prospective hindsight. The insights you will gain from looking back will be profound.

2. Everyone in the business will lead

Many are now making a change to scrap the hierarchy, delegate and empower.  However, this is only a small step in the right direction. The future will see everyone in lead roles in the organisation with the power to command anyone else, right up to CEO. This will drive innovation and accelerate progress towards business outcomes.

3. A single page graphical plan

Very few people in the business read the plan and follow it page by page. Those who do struggle to make sense of it because it is written about individual areas/departments rather than focused on business outcomes in a joined-up way.

The plans in the future will all be a single page and up on the wall. They will be displayed in graphical form so that everyone can understand them at a glance and see exactly what he or she needs to do.

4. The focus will be delivering business outcomes

No longer will organisations focus on the outcomes of specific programmes or projects that are there because;

  • everyone else is doing it,
  • or it is the latest tech solution you must have,
  • or someone in your organisation is empire building!

All activity will be focused on your business outcomes. Everything that happens will have a path that connects it directly to a business outcome.

5. The plan will start and finish with stakeholder needs

How many companies right now start their plan with a budget and resources and end by handing it over to the business?

The future will see every plan begin with the needs of all stakeholders and end with all stakeholders recognising that their needs have been met.

6. Implementation

Some will claim they stick to the plan and complete every last action but this is just not true. Why, because both internal, and more importantly, external factors are constantly changing. Most plans are out of date within months or even weeks of being written.

In the future plans will be living breathing documents that, like your sat nav, can re-route at any time to avoid blocks or benefit from faster ways to reach your business outcomes.

7. There will be no numerical targets

As I posted previously “Numerical Targets Don’t Work“. The future of goal setting within your business plan will focus on targets that are personal, tangible, factual and evidential.

These goals will paint a future picture of your business that all your team buys into and that creates the right behaviours in everyone. The result will be outcomes delivered ahead of time and greater returns than expected.

The Truth and the Future

Why do I believe all these predictions? What proof have I got? Well if there is one thing that is central to the evolution of all those things I mentioned at the beginning – it is science. Science is always at the center of products and services evolving. Sadly, despite all the intelligent individuals involved in planning, little has happened to drag business planning out of the 1950’s!

So how far away is this ‘utopian future of business planning I speak of? Well, you might be surprised to know it is no longer in the future – it is here now!

If you would like to hear more about this new approach to business planning (and implementation) please do contact us.

This evolution in business planning is now a tried and proven process backed by science. Uniquely, there are many common sense reasons you can inspect for yourself which explain why it works.

Please do share this article with others and please do ask us any questions you may have, we would love to help you move your planning and implementation into the 21st century!

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