I recently read a Reader's Digest story about a plan designed by conservationists to reintroduce white-tailed sea eagles to East Scotland where they hadn't lived for 200 years. This took enormous planning, expertise and effort. The animals were even placed on a protected species list. Sounds like a good plan, right?
The sea eagles took a liking to attacking people and farm animals. By placing them on the endangered species list, the eagles essentially had a "license to kill."
I say that with some tongue in cheek, but here's the point: even the best laid plans can go sideways. So how do you design a plan that will get you the results you actually want? How do you keep the birds from flying off with the civilians? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Put your plans in writing. Nothing beats writing things down. Writing has a way of clarifying your thoughts and challenging your assumptions that nothing else has. Not writing things down has the opposite effect. It clouds your vision. It keeps you in a fog, and it fills your mind with false assumptions. We've all heard the stories of the entrepreneurs who wrote their plans on a napkin and went on to make millions. I'm sure it's happened. For you and me though ... well.
2. Gather the best team possible. Your plans will fail without serious talent. The higher the talent quotient of your team, the greater your chances of success. If possible, get a team of collaborators who are smarter than you at your most strategic positions. No one can be great at everything. The wise man gathers a team with massive talent in his areas of weakness. I know this to be true by experience. I've been on both sides of this issue. I've been the wise man and I've been the fool. I've assembled a team of mediocre players and guess what? I reaped mediocre results. Put your ego aside, and assemble the best team possible if you want your plans to succeed.
3. Assess the plan at strategic intervals. Plans are never meant to be inflexible. You've got to leave some room for growth, adjustments and the unplanned. The one thing you can easily bank on is that your plans will never go exactly as you conceived them. That is why you need a process of ongoing assessment. You've got to take a sober look at what is working and what is not on a regular basis. It's amazing how many companies choose to keep their heads buried in the sand, even when it's clear the plan isn't working. Think of Blockbuster as it spied Netflix coming down the pike or Kodak in the digital era. You've got to constantly self-assess and adjust your approach to your goals or risk being left behind.
Your plan should be a living, breathing document. Not something you find in a museum. That's where you find most Kodak cameras these days.