It never ceases to amaze me how many businesses operate without a business plan or if they have one its in a drawer somewhere. One of the key things I took away from my work experience at Kraft and Molson was the discipline around not only writing but sharing the information in the plans with other functional groups in the organization. At a minimum the marketing teams got together on an annual basis to present their respective plans to each other. The purpose was to ensure there was alignment on the strategic priorities and that any overlap in direction was discussed. The benefit of this process was that everyone left the meetings with a clear sense of what each brand team was doing and could effectively support the various teams when opportunities came up.
Times have changed……..budget pressure means that pilgrimages to place like Deerhurst or even a downtown hotel where the troops could be coraled have been reduced. The initial cost savings might be realized but the long-term impact to the business can be substantial and difficult to quantify. In this case what happens is the business units begin to operate in a vacuum. They make decisions in isolation of other functional teams and fail to align key initiatives with the over-arching corporate strategy. Resources are spread over, not only too many initiatives, but ones that should probably never see the light of day.
The annual planning cycle does not need to be an exhaustive process and tie up valuable resources for 5 months every year, which I’ve been party to, but it does need to happen. When it is completed, time should be set aside to share the information with the various teams. If for now other reason than to shine a light on the gaps in the plan so the following year plans can be improved.
Whether you work in an organization with 20 people or 5,000, if you go through the process of developing a business plan find a way to share that information with key functional groups that you need support from. One way to get around a small budget is to win the support of a call center or operations group that has a direct impact on your business.