Executing Plans That Have A Chance Of Success

Tactical planning and strategic planning connect at implementation.

On the strategy side we have what we are trying to do, what we have to do it with, when and where it will happen, and who is involved. On the tactical side we have methods, costs, limits, and risks.

Planning that follows this form typically ends acceptably well if it is implemented as designed. When it fails it is usually because it was implemented poorly or not at all, or because the tactics came to dominate the thinking.

It is a capital mistake to begin with tactics.

In a business

Many businesses market their goods and services based on what they are good at doing. Instead they should move one step closer to the customer and find what they want to buy. In one business I had, we hired a salesperson who had previously sold expensive pots and pans door to door. He made a stunning observation, “It’s surprisingly easy to sell things people want to buy.” How is that hard to believe?

Nonetheless many stick to selling what they make, instead of making what will sell.

Finding what customers want.

Most customers don’t know what they want with enough precision to make the optimal decision. If you have contact with people with the resources to do something effective, addressing the what with question begins with education and identifying opportunities. When they connect those to their own condition, they will see the merit in the tool, tactic, or object you propose in relation to the opportunity.

People value a creative solution to a problem they know they have, and they value identification of problems and opportunities they did not know about. Under those conditions, the solution is not sold, it is bought.

When you don’t have those conditions, people must be sold and that is immensely more difficult and personally frustrating.

Where to begin.

Strategic planning follows the identification of a vision. Things like — Who am I? What values do I hold? What will I not do? What do I want to achieve? How do I want to share that achievement?

The vision part is easy to talk about and is for clarification. Most people have the idea, but not in context of how to implement. Fuzzy vision is a serious impediment to moving forward.

Planning with no vision.

Planning requires some effort. Willpower is not an answer. People don’t last long using it in respect to implementing.

  1. Why should I do it? – Because it specifically addresses my values, and
  2. Why should I not do it? — Because it does not.

Why is motivating. There is an incentive. Humans react to incentives and disincentives. You get far more of what you incentivize and far less of what you don’t.

The takeaway

When you know what you want and why you want it, it is easier to choose methods that get you there and then easier to keep doing it.

When you start with methods, they will be uncomfortable because unconnected methods require willpower and that is in short supply if it exists at all

H.L Hunt, the oil tycoon in the middle part of the 20th century sums it up rationally. “Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities, and go to work” If you look at what has worked for you in the past, I think you will find you did all four steps well. Deciding and commitments work.

Businesses should find what customers would like to buy and find a way to deliver it to them at an acceptable price. In personal planning you are both the customer and the provider. Find the incentivized step. Then and only then, find a way to deliver it.

Method first planning nearly always fails.


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I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

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