Big Red Car here. Bit cloudy early this morning in the ATX but it’s going to burn off and be a lovely, warm day. On Earth as it is in Texas!
Horns won last night v Iowa State and had a tough time of it. Whew. Mack Brown might want to start updating his resume. The Big Red Car supports Mack Brown and wants to remind everyone that the guy saved the Longhorns’ bacon and returned them to prominence. But then again, what have you done for me recently, right?
Today, The Boss is going to take me to the body shop and get a price to get me repainted. Ahhh, I think The Boss is up to something. Hmmm.
I wonder what he’s planning.
Speaking of planning, I was eavesdropping on a number of calls between The Boss and his CEO clients recently and the subject of planning came up.
A great startup or small company has to plan — for the short term, the medium term and the long term. Let’s state the obvious — many CEOs hate planning and are not really good at it. Anyone can be great at planning if you will just do it. It takes a bit of discipline.
Pro tip: Boards, know whether your CEO has done the requisite planning. This is your duty to oversee.
When committing your Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values and Company Culture to writing — OMG, you do have that stuff in writing, right? Haha, Big Red Car, STFU already, of course they do or they will shortly — you are engaging in planning.
Don’t get strangled in your underwear trying to perfect this stuff but do make a sincere initial effort and build upon that. Get better at it each iterative cycle.
Throw in an organization chart and you are on the money.
The planning for your product development is subsumed in all of these documents.
In the long run, we are all dead. OK, let’s move on from there. [Hey, Big Red Car, where did that come from? You been using high test again?]
Short term plans — what you’re going to do in the next month — are pretty easy to do. You can do that stuff on the whiteboard or the computer and move on. This is a continual planning cycle. If you do this well, it will make up for a lot of other shortcomings. But you have to do it and you have to do it well.
Medium term plans — typically an annual plan — are a bit harder to do. They require a bit of organized focus on where you want to be by year end. These plans should be cooking right now:
1. October time frame for initiation
2. November for review and approval; and,
3. December for finalization, dissemination and communication.
Medium term plans are still very tactical but they must support the long term or strategic plan of the company.
Strategic plans should be updated annually and the process is often effectively done at the middle of the year. In this manner, it does not interfere with the annual or medium term plan and it has a half year of performance v the annual plan to give it a dose of reality. [Ahh, reality, you mean spirited bitch. Whoa, Big Red Car, get it together and behave.]
The time frame for the strategic plan is 3-5 years. Shelf life and sell by date are important considerations and while the Big Red Car encourages long term views of things, the world is just changing so fast that it may be a 2-4 year vision at the very best.
You want to grow under control and with no wasted effort, then you must plan.
Growth is the result of looking at what needs to be done — Strategy, Tactics, Objectives — and then assigning those objectives to individual team members.
When you have more objectives than can be accomplished by the current team, then you have to grow the team to overcome that challenge. It really is as simple as that.
This does not mean to suggest that your knee jerk instinctive reaction that you need more programmers is wrong, it simply means that there is a purely objective and organized approach to definitively ascertain that this is the right course of action.
When your planning indicates that your current team cannot accomplish the objectives that flow from the Strategy and Tactics in the allotted time period — you need more people. This approach will also tell you what kind of folks you need because the left over objectives will be sorted by work focus area. Do not hire accountants if you need programmers.
As said earlier, planning is not something that CEOs like to do. Hell, they want to develop product, sell, raise money and they have to do those things.
But a CEO has to drive the organization — DRIVE the organization — by the quality of the plan. The plan is the spear tip on the Vision shaft. If you cannot make and communicate and sell a plan, then you will lose the alignment of your organization. People’s efforts will not be aligned.
Remember The Power of Alignment? It is true.
Do not beat yourself up on this subject but do pay a bit more attention in a “flossing your teeth” kind of way. Won’t save you life but might avoid more than a bit of dental pain. The Boss hates going to the dentist though he has very good teeth. His bite is worse than his bark.