• ashmadden

"I have a cunning plan....."

How many times have you heard this? And how many times has it turned out to be true? I'm not talking about the well known TV series but in business. How often do you work with, or for, companies and people that appear to have no plan at all? Or a plan which bears no relation to reality? How often do you see multiple different, conflicting plans within the same company, department or, in some cases, person?

Unfortunately, it's no laughing matter when it comes to achieving the goals expected by the company. Imagine you're planning a holiday: most people would have some idea of their goal for the holiday (for example, relaxation, warmth, sunshine); they would look at what's available; they would evaluate the alternatives; they would decide how to proceed, how it would be funded and who will do the booking; someone would make the booking and would feedback success or otherwise. If unsuccessful, they would revisit one or more of the previous steps but most likely in the same order.

With a business it's rather more complex and it's easy for the different steps to become disconnected. Do the people tasked with executing the plan know what goals they're trying to achieve? Did anyone analyse and assess the alternatives? Is the past assessment still valid today or tomorrow? How, if at all, is feedback captured and used to inform the decision making process? If the plan didn't work out as expected, why was that? Was it poor execution? Was it the wrong plan in the first place? Does anyone care when they're busy with their "day job"?

Fortunately, there are methodologies to help with business planning and they needn't be overly cunning. One such example is shown above and can be applied to companies of any size.

Step one: define the company's goals.

What kind of business are we running? What are our core values and what matters to us? What are we prepared to put into the business; what do we expect to get out and when? What compromises are we willing to make to achieve the above?

Step two: define the company's strategy.

Where do we fit in the market? What have we got that's unique and different? How can we defend our position against others? How can we maintain our edge as markets evolve? What could we do to make our offer more unique and more different? What value does this deliver to our customers, our partners, our investors and ourselves?

Step three: define the company's objectives.

What opportunities do we have? How should we evaluate them? What markets should we pursue first? What products and services are the best fit? What capabilities do we have? What is our channel partner strategy?

Step four: plan the company's activities.

Who is involved in planning? How and when will it be done? How should we involve channel partners? How do we assign resources and targets? How do we engage resources from our channel partners? How do we engage our customers? How do we motivate everyone involved?

Step five: execute the plan.

How do we create an action plan that actually delivers results? How do we achieve the outcomes we expect, when we expect them? How do we measure results? How do we ensure everyone is in agreement on what needs to be done? How realistic is the plan? Can the results be delivered on time?


Company management plays a role throughout to ensure that all of the above can be monitored, managed and communicated. Management also oversees and ensures legal, ethical and standards compliance not just as part of the plan execution but at all stages of the process.


The importance of feedback from every stage of the process cannot be overstated. Can the strategy meet, and continue to meet, the company goals? Can the chosen opportunities deliver the results expected by the company? How well do they fit with the company strategy? Do we have the resources to meet our objectives? Are all parties sufficiently motivated to achieve our objectives? How is the plan execution progressing? Are we meeting our targets? Will we meet our targets? Are we in compliance?

Do we have a cunning plan?

If we have a method to create a plan (cunning or otherwise) and stick to it, our chances of success improve. Better still, our plan can continue to stay relevant and drive our business in the future too.

Ash Madden is Founder and Director of Madden Associates Limited, the Specialist Channel Sales & Partnering Consultancy

#efficiency #returns #partnering #channels #sales

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