Choices to focus your business plan

Here are 3 sets of closely related choices – areas of focus - to help make sure you get the most from your business plan.

Eliminating Pain Points vs. Progress in Strategy Execution

I recently met with a CEO to organize a strategic planning meeting with his leadership team. When I asked what success looked like for the planning meeting, he held up his list of the top 10 pain points his company wants to resolve. For him, success was fixing things that are causing pain for his team.

Focusing on removing pain points is a common, but misplaced focus. There is nothing wrong with fixing things, but removing pain only gets the business to pain-free, not success.

Success means performing activities aligned with the company’s vision - moving toward something intentionally defined, not away from something that doesn’t work.

The clearer a company is about what it is moving towards, the more successful it will be in executing its strategy. No successful company has a vision of simply being pain-free. There’s more to success than the absence of issues.

Forced Fit vs. Alignment

When a business is clear in its future state vision, it's easier to know which activities, decisions, hiring choices, or partnerships align and which are out-of-scope.

Clarity helps avoid wasting time on activities which will never be a good fit with the business. This applies to the daily activities a business invests its time into as well as bigger picture endeavors like joint ventures, mergers or acquisitions.

Struggle vs. Strength 

An effective business plan over-weights attention to core competencies – the things your company does best – and steers clear of anything outside of that nucleus. This means leaders have to be honest with themselves and their organization about what their company does well, and what would be better left to others.

If you ever want to see evidence of playing to strengths, count the number of cars waiting in line at an In-N-Out Burger drive-through. The menu exemplifies their strengths – burgers, fries, and shakes. Nothing else. And that focus pays off quite well. 

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