Business Plans Are Old Hat

Business Plans Are Old Hat

Business plans for many SME companies are documents that write down the intentions of the business in the coming period. In the 1950s we saw the rise, and then fall, of the “corporate planner”. This was a function that gathered market data, analysed the internal resources of the business and produced a plan for the coming 3-5 years to allow the board to focus its efforts on achievement.

old fashioned

Even recently business plans were produced, not by corporate planning functions, but by the business leaders; in order to write down their intentions and provide a stakeholder (usually a lending institution or investor) the ability to understand what they are backing.

In the last decade I could have retired on the £1 I would get from talking to each CEO or Director who confessed that their business plan was outdated, inaccurate, or just a “finger in the air.”

How so?

The pace of change in both social and market terms is now so fast, so eye watering ruthless, that to adopt and try to execute a formal business plan for the next 3-5 years is pure stupidity.

What companies need in this decade, is an “adapting” plan, one that changes and moves each quarter; forget the 3-5 years.


Trouble is that few understand how to get such a plan.

Due to the explosion of information and complexity of our world, we also need to broaden and deepen the way in which we collate, react to and use data/information that will give business a greater chance of riding the waves of change.

This inherently lies within the people you employ within your business.

“What a waste, to hire excellent intelligent people and then spend your entire time simply telling them what to do”

So how does a business adapt its planning tools, to deepen and broaden information provision, to allow an adaptive plan to emerge, who owns it and how often does this need to happen?

Firstly, if you plan to involve your workforce, there needs to be two primary needs that need to be recognised in order to make this a positive exercise:

  1. A strategic statement is devised and published, led from the top that outlines the medium term ambition of the business.
  2. A system that is designed to be fair, as this is psychology of inclusion, otherwise to be wasted time.

A formal written statement of desired outcome is authored by the business leader, or divisional leader. This is widely communicated by all means possible. Don’t forget the shift workers, staff absent by holiday or sickness, and remember that the language used must be understood by every person in the company. Avoid jargon, long meaningless management words or a tone that could alienate types of workers. Oh, and don’t forget that you need to address the issue where English is not the first language.

An invitation is then extended over a 2-4 week period to allow all staff to offer their unrestricted “views and opinions” against the statement of outcome that you have published. In order to make this “FAIR” it is recommended that this process is anonymous.


Whilst anonymity is a word that causes most business leaders to recoil in horror it is the only way to quickly install fairness as a platform.

This method will provide the business leader with almost every possible issue, challenge, blockage and opportunity in anticipation of an inclusive business planning exercise.

By using such a method (we call it DeepAudit™) you are able to utilise the brainpower of all of your staff, and by installing fairness as a platform, you will hugely improve the energy and focus of the organisation.

This provides you with an adaptive business plan, able to roll with the change that will inevitably cause the plan to need revising and be able to adapt to market forces, technological shifts and customer needs.

For more information a free downloadable report is available HERE

“Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box” - Deepak Chopra