In the business planning process, commitment is essential. Plans need to be implemented, and implementation means commitment. There has to be accountability, and peer pressure. You have to follow up on what was planned to make sure that it was actually carried out. Here are some ways to develop commitment within your team:
- Use the SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to start discussion. SWOT brings team members into the strategic discussion. It makes strategy understandable. Your managers have to be part of the team that discusses strategy.
- Make the budgeting elements of the planning process visible. Managers should see what their peers are spending and should hear why. One of the best things I ever watched, as a consultant, was a management group that argued over the activity budgets during the planning process. Each manager had to defend his or her budget, showing what sales and marketing budgets would come out of it. There was a lot of peer pressure.
- Make sure people know that actual results will be compared to plan. With time, in a company that uses the planning process, this becomes second nature. In the beginning, however, it is extremely important that the main company owners and operators set the standards by scheduling plan review meetings each month and attending them. This has to be important.
The bottom line here is that planning process, for a growing company, is about the people more than the plan. Not only does everything have to be measurable, but it also has to be measured, after the fact, and tracked, and managed. Your people must be committed to your plan.
(Note: slightly revised from a 2007 post here)