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Keep Your Plans Simple Stupid

It isn’t that we don’t plan. It’s actually pretty easy to plan. I can tell you first hand, I have written  thousands of plans. Many of them achieved great results.  

But the majority of them didn’t pan out. And it wasn’t because the plans were flawed. The reality is, the execution was flawed.

My plan was perfect, but it failed miserably!

First we need to understand planning and execution go hand and hand. You can’t have one without the other and expect great outcomes.

The reality is that execution is what makes or breaks a plan. Especially plans that require us to venture into new territories and uncharted waters, like strategic planning and launching innovative new products.

Planning needs to be treated as a learning system

A plan takes shape by defining an initial set of action we will take to achieve a desired outcome. It’s based on the best set of knowledge and data we have at hand.

Yes, there is front-end discovery activity that happens before we solidify the plan like defining what is it we are trying to achieve, and why is it important to us.

What follows is a continuous learn by doing sequence focused on achieving the desired outcome. As new realities are uncovered, we either stay the course, reshape and improve the plan, or abandon the plan and look for a new course of action.

Plans need to be documented and shared

Let’s take a step back. I am making the assumption that plans have been written down and are clear. With key metrics defined including “what victory looks like” when we reach it.

But how many plans never escape the grey matter of your head? Don’t assume if we talk about our plans often enough, they will solidify into a clear set of actions that our team will understand and know what to do to achieve the business objectives.

If you are a relatively small organization, with reasonable clarity of what needs to get done, then perhaps talking about the plan is sufficient.

But as your organization grows, there are just too many activities going on around you that are swamping and perhaps trumping your assumed plan of attack trapped in your head.

So why do plans get stuck in our head?

Most likely it’s because a we have the wrong idea of what a plan is. And/or we are using the wrong tool for the job.  

What we don’t need is a multi-page business plan/case used to raise money or justify a capital expenditure. Those plans have their place, but that’s not what is needed in most planning situations.

What we need is a simple on page plan that gets to the essences of what needs to get done. It answers these five critical question.

  1. What are we trying to build?

  2. Why are we building this?

  3. What key objective will we measure?

  4. How will we achieve these objectives?

  5. What actions must we take to execute?

Keep Your Plans Simple Stupid!

As with many things in life, less-is-more when it comes creating clear and actionable plans. But reducing complex plans into a simple one page document might seem impossible.

It’s not if we follow a process prescribed in the One-Page-Business Plan™, and engage a trained facilitator to help us step through the process.

Great! With the one-page-plan in place, we can now address the execution phase of planning:

Implement a Performance System Focusing on Key Objectives & Learn by Doing

Yup, the KISS (keep-it-simple-stupid) principle applies. We do not need a complex system to measure execution.

What we need is a simple performance system and dashboard that helps keep everyone focused, measures what matters, facilitates learning and provides accountability that things we agreed to are getting done.

Want to learn more about the one-page-planning and executing system?  Drop me a line, or do something really bold: pick-up-the-phone and give me a call. I am always open to helping leaders succeed.

Warmest regards,


The One Page Business Plan is a registered trademark of the One Page Business Plan Company © 2012. All Rights Reserved. 

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