Top 6 tenets to effective business planning

June 6, 2019

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

It is without a doubt successful businesses are equipped with thorough planning and constantly evolving goals. However, it can be difficult to know exactly what needs to be accounted for in the planning process. In Honkamp Krueger’s You vs. Business Planning webinar, HK partner Steve Campana breaks down the six denominators of continuous business planning. Continuous is the key word, as planning for your business is an ongoing process, rather than a program with a distinct beginning and end. While these six denominators are separate processes, they all work together to produce an effective and adaptable plan.

1) Shared Vision and Values

Every organization needs a clear, compelling vision and a set of articulate value statements. While a vision or mission is one succinct statement, values are a set of core principles that outline how the organization fulfills its vision. Together, the vision and values communicate where the organization is going and how it plans to get there. The vision and values should serve as the framework for all goal-setting and decision-making. Without a vision and corresponding values, the planning process will not have direction or focus.

2) Assess – Adapt – Align (AAA)

At all points in the planning process, one should ask his or herself the following questions:

  • What’s happening? (Assess)
  • What’s not working? What needs to change? (Adapt)
  • Are our actions aligned with our vision and strategic direction? (Align)

This denominator requires five considerations: The first is financial and data. “Your organization or business is perfectly designed to get the results its been getting,” says Campana. “If after reviewing your organization’s data and financial information you find that these results are less than ideal, it is time to adapt your business plan to achieve desired results.”

The second consideration, customers and marketing, asks the organization who its ideal customer is and what value the organization is providing to its customer base.

Operations and processes is the third consideration and focuses on optimizing the way in which the organization runs. Processes should be documented, evaluated and altered if needed.

People, the fourth consideration, involves examining compensation strategy, culture and individual employees. Campana explains that the “right people are those that share your value; the right seats are where they are passionate and proficient.” This consideration requires the organization to determine whether its people are in the right positions.

Finally, the fifth consideration is to always keep the end in mind. While planning requires a detailed look into smaller aspects of your organization, the broader picture should guide the planning process.

3) Identify Outcomes Desired

Every plan needs specific objectives and tactics to achieve those objectives. Identifying outcomes requires three concepts:

  • Objective – What do I want to accomplish?
  • Key Result – How do I know if I’m getting there?
  • Initiative – What will I do to get there?

By identifying these concepts, you are laying the groundwork for a successful plan. All other planning should relate back.

4) Clear – Consistent – Communication (CCC)

“The best cultures openly share information.”

Campana explains that “no business plan comes to life until it can be clearly and consistently communicated” to employees, customers, vendors and the community. When your audiences are enlightened of your vision, they can connect their roles to the organization’s goals, empowering them to make an impact. Without communication of the vision and goals, there is no purpose behind the work being done.

Allowing vulnerability is integral to creating a culture of open communication. When employees trust that they can freely share ideas, innovation, creativity and change result.

5) Execution and Accountability

At this point in the planning process, it is time to put tactics into action and hold responsible parties accountable for unmet objectives. Leaders should take responsibility for both successes and failures.

Strategic next actions (SNAs) are calculated responses to a result that should not depend on the completion of another task or other resources. According to Campana, SNAs should relate to one of the desired outcomes and be specific and measurable. The formulation of SNAs requires one to ask, “What’s next?”

6) Finish – Improve – Grow (FIG)

The sixth denominator requires that you identify and take steps to complete all incomplete tasks or goals. Then, it is time to ask the following questions:

  • What did we set out to do?
  • What was expected to happen? What actually happened?
  • What went well and why?
  • What did not go as planned and why?
  • What can be improved and how?

“Successful organizations have a culture of growth and lifelong learning,” Campana explains. Learning from successes and failures is what will make the difference.

The continuous business planning process is full of unique challenges, but Campana’s advice is to simply get started with the denominator that makes sense for your organization and continue until you’ve considered each one. For a more in-depth look at the six common denominators of continuous business planning, watch the on-demand webinar:

For help with business planning, email us at, call us at 888.556.0123 or fill out our form.

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