How to Help Your Leaders Create a Business Plan That Actually Works for Them

It’s that time of year… Strategic planning. You can already hear the rumblings of your leaders when you
block out a day for business planning. You probably hear how busy they are with year-end, and how
hard it is to keep employees even slightly focused on work and ending the year strong, and how they
don’t have time to sit down and think about next year.

That is complete BS. The problem isn’t any of those things. Chances are, they think your approach to
business planning is a complete waste of time – a meaningless, check the box activity.

So, how do you make strategic business planning a meaningful activity rather than an annoying annual

Be intentional

The senior leadership team must sit down and discuss opportunities, threats, market influences, competition, and how your company will continue to be the best at helping your clients next year. There should be one overarching theme to your business plan for the year. It should be in a short and sweet action statement that summarizes the one thing, if we do nothing else well, will matter. That is your vision statement for next year! Make it short and sweet so people remember it!

Keep planning simple

Business planning should be simple. We can’t do all the things, but we can focus on 3-5 goals next
year. Choose a simple strategic planning model that matches your company. Agree upon the company’s business strategy and critical goals. Then, each functional leader focuses on the critical wins inside their business unit or department that directly contribute to those goals. The goals should all be SMART goals.

Focus on action

Set a goal that is attainable and measure what matters. We can only measure how well we are executing on a goal if we create a clear, well defined, actionable goal to start. Each goal should have action statements defining activities that will help our teams reach that goal.


The leadership team must be in agreement on the business goals. Don’t leave the room until everyone is committed to those goals being important. Make your business planning session a workshop where leadership leaves the room aligned and have broken down the business goals into their functional goals and actions.


The business plan should not be set by the leaders, only to be put in a drawer and reviewed
quarterly. All employees should hear it often and all employees should “get it”. Employees should
understand what the company’s goals are, what their team’s contribution is, and all employees
should be tasked with coming up with and owning activities that support those goals in their roles every day. The more employees see and own their contribution, the more committed they are to helping you attain those goals!

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