4 Areas to Consider When Planning Your New Year

If you are reading this and giving consideration to your business plan for next year then you are among a select group – those who are still in business after a rough year in a tough economy. Hopefully you used some sort of plan for critical objectives to enter last year and for the most part achieved it.

  • If so, you are encouraged to do the same again and expand the impact of that process and success to more of your business.
  • If not, then you were successful reacting sufficiently well to take advantage of opportunities and to avoid threats.

In both instances you probably saw opportunities to be more “planned” than reaction oriented in responding to events that consume too much time or, in the end, did not deserve the attention they got but then – you did not have a plan or strategy to deal with them, important or not.

Uncertain times can cause us to be less organized when we should be more organized. We convince ourselves that it will not be worthwhile to put a plan together because we have too little control over events and therefore we ride it out and let them take over. So what do you do? I recommend that you prepare a plan that:

  • Improves Leadership,
  • Improves Process quality and effectiveness,
  • Refines and adjusts Metrics, and
  • Improves the use and Organization of your Financial Reports to operate the business!

Whether the economy is good or bad you need a plan. Even in a tempest you can plan to make progress, develop people, realign your strengths to address weaknesses, establish new lines of business, drop ineffective operations in order to advance the business and make the business more responsive to the conditions it is operating in.

The following are areas to consider in making your plan for 2011.


  • Do you have a vision and are you sharing it throughout the business?
  • Do you connect with your vision when making decisions?
  • What is the one thing you can do to make yourself more accessible to your employees?
  • What can you do to foster more teamwork in your business?
  • What relationships do you have to improve over the year?
  • What mentor relationships with your executive team are you going to establish?
  • What can you do to exert a positive (or more positive) influence in the conduct of day-to-day activities?
  • What training are you going to recommend to improve the leadership of your front line managers and supervisors?
  • Establish a way to measure and monitor and report your progress toward these goals.


  • Are your processes reviewed at regular intervals to see if they are still current and meeting objectives?
  • Get input from those who work with troublesome processes to understand what they feel needs to be changed?
  • Provide available resources to address the most critical process issues?
  • Regularly communicate progress toward eliminating poorly operating processes as an example of the company’s attitude toward process improvement.
  • Establish program to recognize contributors to process improvement ideas, implementation and execution.


  • Do you have your critical process points measured and monitored at regular intervals – hourly, daily, weekly, etc. – and responsibility assigned to key employees?
  • Have you established a dashboard of metrics that you need to see on a daily basis to give you a cross section look at the business?
  • What action needs to be taken to improve the accuracy and timeliness of key metrics?
  • What new process points should be monitored over the next year?

Organized Financials

  • Do your operating managers have responsibility for their portion of the financial reports?
  • Are they managing from this information to achieve greater cost control and efficiency?
  • Are employees awareness of how operational performance affects financial results?
  • Do you regularly monitor interim period financial feedback with responsible managers and supervisors?

Short of setting business specific targets there are plenty of opportunities in the suggestions above to make improvements in:

  • How your business operates on a daily basis,
  • Improving your role as a leader and how that “leadership” role is extended through the organization, and
  • Coaching and mentoring managers and employees to improve processes, eliminate waste, non-value add operations and improve the velocity of products and services to your customer.

Committing to a planning process is painful for many and a tedious effort but it produces valuable results. I have always found the following quote of value when weighing the decision to plan.

“It pays to plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”

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