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Business planning and the business of digging holes


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I’m in the middle of a pretty large home renovation project right now, which means there’s a great big hole in my basement floor and the foundation is fully exposed. It’s been that way for weeks now. I’m waiting on this and I’m waiting on that, and hey, it’s summer in Toronto, I’ve got to take some time to enjoy myself a bit, right? Meanwhile my wife does her work 10 or 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week. Guess which one of us is the businessperson! (Well, I do have a job, and only a small part of which is what you’re reading.)

The reno project isn’t delayed due to lack of hard work—try operating a jackhammer on several inches of concrete floor and tell me it’s not hard—it’s the planning that’s causing the problems. I can fill the hole, but I can’t do it until the plumber comes and does his thing. If you’re running a business or managing work and workers, I’m sure you have some idea of what I’m talking about.

(Now, I don’t want my boss to think that I’m incapable of planning: I did manage to get that hole in my floor after all.)

Jeffrey D. Sherman writes in Finance and Accounting PolicyPro:

Good planning is worth the effort invested, since it draws on collective expertise, builds consensus about the best direction for the company, and provides the means by which all functions in the company adjust their activities to achieve the overall direction.

Organizations perform all kinds of planning, from arranging minor details to developing fundamental strategies. And strong planning involves all functions of an organization. Without a plan, how would anyone know what to do first?

There’s strategic planning. There’s business planning. Budgeting is another type of planning; forecasting, too. And recruiting and successions; and don’t forget marketing, and risk management and special projects.

For example, a company might plan strategically to enter a new area of business. From there, project leaders will have to prepare budgets and marketing plans, determine staff and resource requirements, forecast results and assess the risks, each plan an individual part of the whole.

I’m learning all to clearly that, without planning, it’s hard to get started, and without starting, it’s impossible to get things done. Moreover, a strong plan is crucial if you want to measure your progress.

But I mainly want to swing my hammer. What about you? Is planning one of your strengths? Have you faced a project that just didn’t want to work? Or one that just went smoothly from start to finish?

Planning is as much about finishing than starting, but I think I’ll wait for another day to go there. Maybe by then I’ll be able to tell you how much I’m enjoying my new basement!

Did you know? First Reference publishes Finance and Accounting PolicyPro (FAPP), which covers in detail Strategic Planning, Business Planning, Budgets and Forecasts, Succession Planning, Marketing, Product Design and Development, and much more, and includes ready-to-use and easy-to-customize sample policies on each topic. You can give it a try, for free.

Adam Gorley
Human Resources and Compliance Editor

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Adam Gorley

Editor at First Reference
Adam Gorley, B.A. (Phil.), is a researcher, content provider and editor. He contributes regularly to First Reference Talks and Internal Control blogs, HRinfodesk and other First Reference publications. His areas of focus include broad human resources issues, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance and government policies, information technology and labour market trends.Read more
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