There is a difference.
Putting off a decision is different in nature and in consequence to making a decision that concludes with a “no”.
The current volatility of local, national and global economies and marketplaces has tended to influence many business owners and managers to put off a decision until things are “better” or “right”.
That's interesting !! When one retreats or withdraws from an active, if not proactive role, a negative mindset is inclined to evolve. It is then that the time or circumstances never seem to be “right” and “better” is only a passing phase or another “false dawn”. Yeah, right!
Decisions which are made on the best available information are just that. Limited by the availability of information at a given point in time.
For many in business, time has been the independent variable in the decision making process. Significantly, the decision is then the dependent variable. Nothing happens until someone finds the time to recognise that a decision is needed.
That raises the important question of just how many business plans nominate planning as a key component and specify the actual time period for planning reviews and refinements.
USE TIME WISELY
Information in the current marketplace is not perfect nor complete. Accepted. It never has been, is or will be, regardless of the character of the economy… at the time.
The buoyancy and exuberance of the boom period have lapsed. Less pressure is being applied to the available time of business owners, managers and staff members. Retrenchments and staff dismissals have qualified to some degree, the amount of increased uncommitted time in a typical working week.
However, there is little evidence that more dedicated time is being allocated by many entities to business development, marketing, team building, training and planning.
References to 10% of time being given to marketing and 5% to planning generally collapse when executives and people are asked to nominate which specific hours and days are scheduled for such activities. The usual rider to the statement is, “when time permits.”
Now is the time to undertake interactive sessions which involve the participants in visualising, analysing and formulating possible and probable marketplace scenarios which will or could develop during the ensuing three year time horizon.
Strategic and tactical options can then be recognised and isolated. One significant by-product is the acceptance by most that options and choices do exist. The “siege mentality” which has gripped and impedes many entities is addressed, readdressed and often overcome. Personal and group confidence is lifted.
Pre-emptive analysis can and, arguably, should be given to the identification of marketplace triggers which will necessitate appropriate decision making and action implementation. That will save time, provide scope for marketplace leadership and ensure an early development of increased momentum.
Deluding oneself in the mistaken belief that it is not necessary to make a decision at this time can have its own opiate characteristics. An absence of decision making can reduce stress, free up time and avoid the prospect of errors, omissions and failure.
However, the loss of momentum in the intermediate to longer term has widespread implications for competitive advantage, supply chain benefits, customer loyalty, stability and the creation of almost impenetrable defensive forces.
PLAN TO PLAN
Detailed and documented planning is not an innate feature of many corporate cultures or business activities.
Sadly, and disturbingly the formulation and documentation of business plans are all too often outsourced. External consultants, no matter how good, qualified and experienced, can never fully understand and accurately articulate a company philosophy and set of core values.
Such consultants are invaluable in providing a malleable and relevant planning framework. The hard work and the contents must necessarily be the responsibility of the people who lead and work within an entity.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Critics of scenario planning dismiss the concept as being speculative, subjective and inaccurate.
There is some currency in the first two of those three adjectives. However, anecdotal evidence and detailed analysis over an extended period of time reveal that documented plans which evolved from scenario planning workshops are inevitably strikingly accurate.
That should come as no surprise. Business professionals who know in detail their market place, their products, their services, competitors, customers and global trends in communications, supply chain management and marketing, can and do readily visualise the unfolding scenario.
Regrettably, most do not dedicate sufficient time, money and resources to the planning of the business.
Leading sports commentators in latter years have concluded that the difference between young, aspiring cricketers achieving and failing to wear the “baggy green” cap as an Australian Test cricketer comes down to a minimum figure … 20,000.
For a batsman or bowler, that equates to some 55 balls bowled or faced each day of each year, for a number of years. And that is just the number in excess of the average.
Similarly, business leaders who plan and make astute decisions regularly become very good at both. Success follows. How lucky are they ???