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No Plan Is a Plan to Fail

In the beginning of the year, gyms are busy with all the new members with the same “old” resolutions to get into shape this year. If a business leader wants to have a successful 2010 then they can’t treat their business plan like a New Year’s resolution — that is the same old broken promise a person makes year after year. Instead, they must treat the business plan like a championship coach treats his game plan. A business leader must be more committed than those people that go to the gym every day starting January 3rd but by February 1st need a GPS system to find it. All great sports coaches have a game plan prior to starting a game. Business is the same way. Think of the New Year’s ball dropping in New York as the whistle that lets us know the game has started. Don’t wait for the government to tell you if 2010 will be a good or bad year. Create a game plan that will make sure 2010 is a great year for you and your team.

Creating Your Game Plan

In 2010, don’t write a business plan. Instead, create a game plan. To really make it work, a leader must do more than change the name — they need to understand the difference. A business plan is something that a company would give the bank to get a loan, or what a company may use to determine the financials. A game plan is something that tells a leader or a person the what, the how, the when and the why of achieving particular goals. A game plan is all about taking control of the business and how to ensure that others will not affect the business negatively.

Step 1. Write it Down. The first step in creating the game plan is simple and yet is what most people reading this will never get to — write it down. If your game plan is in your head, it’s not a plan, it’s a thought. Thoughts have no business value until you write them down. Writing a game plan does three things for us: creates thought process, creates confidence and creates action-results.

Step 2. Stop and Think. When a professional creates a game plan they are forced to look at their desired results and stop to really focus on what activities are required to achieve their set goals. Just the focus and thought it takes to create a real game plan is beneficial and helpful. It creates an environment to review what has worked, what hasn’t, what is working for others and so forth. In addition, when a person creates a game plan they become more confident in themselves and therefore become more motivated to take action. A real workable game plan is more than a nice three-ring binder that a person looks at once a year and puts on the book shelf for the next 11 months to collect dust.

Step 3. Be Logical. When a leader creates their game plan, the plan should not be a dream that a person or team cannot achieve. It should, however, be a stretch from the “norm.” Many business consultants and leaders will say to make a plan realistic and that is a sure fire way to limit one’s success. Realistic is not a good metric to measure by because it is limited by the past and provides excuses. For example a sales manager will say, “The sales people are only making 10 calls a day and it is unrealistic for them to increase it to 50 times per day immediately”. Or maybe since John the sales person has never exceeded x amount of sales then it is not realistic for him to do so. The activity and goals need to be logical, not realistic. Logical takes out lack of human discipline and desire. A game plan should force a person or team to always believe they can be number 1. Logical says, “Someone has to be number 1, why not me?” Stop being realistic — start be logical and don’t let your past limit your future. Let your present create a momentous future!

Implementing Your Game Plan

Although creating the plan is imperative to getting started, it is the just the beginning, a hint for success: you also have to implement what you write down.

Step 1: Define Expectations. Have every supervisor give all direct reports their expectations starting with what time to be at work, ready to start, to what they will do to coach and develop their team. Even the top leaders that have a proven success record need to do this. The higher the pay grade the more important the expectations. Show your commitment as a leader by providing the template for defining expectations to your team. The game plan is what a person creates that will become their playbook on how they will exceed their leader’s expectations. A good plan will show a person where they are now, where they want to be in the next three to 12 months and most importantly how will get there.

Step 2: Work the Plan. All leaders must inspect what they expect. I believe it was the great Ronald Reagan who said, “trust but verify.” A great way to keep business plans front of mind for everyone is to make each person present their game every quarter in front of their peers and superiors. This will allow for the entire team to hold each other accountable and not just the direct leader. A true game plan is worked and adjusted regularly. Having a game plan takes a team beyond a person telling their boss or leader what they want to hear — it takes them to making the plan their own.

Step 3: Stay Committed. So many companies have the best ideas and intentions, but often fall short of keeping a successful coaching program running. Watch out for the “Power of New” profit taker, an organization or team that is excited about new programs, changes or a new game plan, but after a few months, this “new” stuff starts to look suspiciously like work and the “fun-ness” wears off. A great leader knows that working on the business is the only way to motivate everybody to keep working in the business.

Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group and author of “The Sales Leaders Playbook,” is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former executive director for Sprint, and business owner of several small businesses, Jamail travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. His clients include U.S. Army Reserves, Nationwide Insurance, Metro PCS, State Farm Insurance, Century 21, Jackson National Insurance Company and ThyssenKrupp Elevators. He can be contacted through his Web site or by calling +1 972 377 0030.


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