The Wonders of Planning and Preparation and How it Affects Performance

mocha momentsStarting with your own.

We’ve just celebrated Mother’s Day – a day many businesses look forward to as they offer gift ideas and services suitable for Mom. Marketing gurus usually advise that business owners need to look at any upcoming year in advance and PLAN in particular for celebrated days such as Mother’s Day and Easter and Christmas and any other day in between. Some businesses even create themes and provide deep discounts on those days etc. How many businesses actually do it? By “it” I mean – PLAN?

You think I’m joking right? Everyone plans! Sure. But the sad reality is that these special days, that we know WAY in advance are coming up, EVERY YEAR I might add, are not thoroughly planned for.  I remember when I worked for a popular print outfit back in the day and we used to laugh at customers – you know the incredulous laugh – where we simply could not believe that EVERY SINGLE CHRISTMAS there’d be a rush to print calendars and other Christmas related items and promotions. “Christmas comes EVERY YEAR” we’d joke but every year we’d get caught up in rushed frenzy.

KNOWING is definitely NOT the problem here. DOING is the problem and there’s actually a business concept called “The Knowing-Doing Gap”. Leo Babauta blog author of Zen Habits – finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives says that this is where companies study all kinds of ways to improve, hire consultants and hold endless seminars, start a new Big Program every year … but don’t actually change anything. They KNOW WHAT to improve, but don’t actually implement it.

This is not just about a lack of planning for Holidays and events throughout the year – this is about addressing this question: “Why are there so many gaps between what you KNOW you should do and what you ACTUALLY do?” Why do so many companies fail to implement the experience and insight they’ve worked so hard and paid good money to acquire?

A long-time customer of mine inspired this column today. She had exceptional sales for Mother’s Day at her shop and it all started with her planning for the day. Not a week before as if it were some new holiday now being introduced, but months before.

elr-performance-v3

It started with getting new ideas for product on Pinterest, sharing those ideas with her staff, getting feedback as to what they thought was possible – what would work; sourcing and purchasing new decorations and ingredients needed to complete agreed upon items; promoting on her Facebook page and finally setting a target for her sales team – who on the actual day – worked magically and exceeded their quota. The sales supervisor, who anticipated that she’d have to chip in and sell, couldn’t get a chance to sell anything because her team were so busy. My client plans to reward her staff for their excellent performance but realizes that she has to learn from this experience and not make it a one hit wonder. This client did fairly well on Mother’s Day in years gone by, but for her to say to me “the wonder of planning and preparation,” is testament to how even she, with all her experience (over 25 years in business) was amazed!

As we talked about it, I provided the missing piece between planning, preparation and performance…ENGAGEMENT. Everyone in her shop were incredibly engaged because she involved them at her vision stage and got their input so that when it was time to execute, she did not have to “sell them” on getting into action. They all did what they needed to do and then some. In years gone by during training sessions with me, there’d be complaints from one department that the other department would never chip in and help if they saw that something needed to be done. This time around – there were no boundaries. Items needed to be sold, customers needed to be served and everyone took 100 % responsibility for ensuring that things ran smoothly including chipping in where they didn’t usually work!

Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, well-known authors and teachers share “The message is clear-organizations that turn knowledge into action avoid the “smart talk trap.” Business leaders must use plans, analysis, meetings, and presentations to INSPIRE deeds, not as SUBSTITUTES FOR ACTION. Companies that ACT on their knowledge also eliminate fear, abolish destructive internal competition, measure what matters, and promote leaders who understand the work people do in their businesses.”

It’s worth repeating: AVOID the SMART TALK trap. We waste tons of energy talking a good talk when that energy could be better utilized planning, strategizing and quickly implementing. It takes much longer than we THINK to bring ideas/visions into reality so we need to give ourselves enough time. Let’s wake up and realize that there is so much more that we can accomplish instead of relying simply on how we’ve always done business and operating as if we’re on auto-pilot. Get out of your head, stop just talking about doing – and get into action. And if you do – you too just might experience the wonder of planning and preparation!

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Image from http://wdrs.fnal.gov/elr/performance/index.html

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