Are your achievements a result of the actions you take, or are your actions a result of the achievements you want?
One way to plan ahead and produce targets is to take what you have been doing and extend it into the future, capitalizing on good work practices, amending or perhaps discontinuing any areas not doing so well. By adding up the anticipated results from this, you will have a target to work towards for the following time period. If it’s not what you’re looking for, then you go back and tweak things in order to get closer to the overall objectives.
Perhaps more recently, another form of strategic planning has begun to take over. In its purest form, it’s simply deciding what it is you want to achieve and then figuring out how to make it happen. Using the latter method, the actions are a result of the achievements you want, as opposed to the achievements being the result of the actions you take. A significant and important difference.
Using the first method, you seldom make dramatic changes to your actions but keep on doing the things you do best, improving wherever possible. There’s nothing wrong with this - most successful companies have a strong underpinning of this type of planning. However, it’s invariably the latter method that enables companies to expand rapidly and have the flexibility to keep ahead of the field. By setting seemingly impossible goals, it ensures all energies are focused on the tasks ahead, constantly looking to new ways to achieve the results. Even if these difficult targets are not always met, they are still likely to be far ahead of those set using the initial approach.
Like most things, it comes at a price. Rapidly expanding companies encounter many teething problems as they enter new areas of operation -heavy demands are placed on all employees, with new challenges appearing all the time. Smaller, incrementally planned growth is generally a more comfortable method, but may lack the excitement of being at the cutting edge of your particular industry sector.
But at the end of the day, either method is better than no planning at all……