Strategic planning & your business

Having spent many years in the Military as an Officer in the Artillery Corps I learnt a lot about Strategic Planning, People & Communication, all aspects that I utilise in my current Business when working with Business Owners.

In the military when conducting planning it was usually an integrated planning cycle, which included other arms of service. It was at times like this that you realised you are a small YET important cog in this Military Machine. Unlike the movies when one guy takes on an entire Company or Platoon it is not like that in real life.

As part of the planning – detailed orders and safe routes are identified for the deployments and are given to your fellow Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers(NCO’s) to execute the plan, with you as their Commander sometimes in excess of 40km away from them.

Safety of your own personnel has to be taken into account as well as the force you are supporting with you having to compile safety orders and plans.  This would imply that you preferably do not have targets outside the safety arc or close to own forces.

It is at this point that you are asking – ‘What has this got to do with my Business?’ and the answer would be quite a LOT actually, so I will explain.

Some Business Owners simply have no plan and as a result NO route planned and just meander through Business aimlessly.  Ask yourself the question

a. What is the point being in a car without a destination of exactly where we want to go and when we need to be there…?

b. Also no point having a map without a destination…?

As in the Military Planning we all (at least should) do planning within our Business and preferably document your plan.  This plan will Identify  where we want to go with our business and how we are going to get there?

Some of us take the obvious routes but with that you have you may have a few things to bear in mind;

a. IF it is so obvious – would our competitors (or the ‘enemy’) not follow this route as well or ‘target’ it?

b. Usually when something seems too simple it usually is and may not offer the results we are after.

As with the obvious routes, we sometimes get the back route and that too has it’s challenges, such as on the map it clearly shows a route, yet when we get there that road is no longer in use or under construction or even ‘overgrown’.  So we will face these deviations in our business, yet what is important is how we deal with it, by having contingencies in place to counter these speed bumps.

 

That then brings us to the next point – who we have in our team, we can depend on, that can make those decisions on which route to follow.  Remember these are individuals that, through your communication (orders) know where they must get to and by when. That is if your orders were clear and you actually know where you are wanting to go!

The letting go of ‘control’ is perhaps the biggest single aspect that Business Owners have trouble with. DO you know why?  Trust!  You as the Business Owner have employed this person, maybe even interviewed this person and offered them a job because you saw they had the potential/skills that your business required.  NOW let them do what they are trained to do!

With you as a Business Owner trusting and empowering your staff through various means you will afford yourself the opportunity to Work ON your Business and spend less time IN your Business.  Examples of how you could empower them is by;

a. Clearly Defined Roles & Responsibilities (documented)

b. Documented Policies and Procedures

c. Training (and trusting your training)

These THREE points above are all aspects that are fundamentals in any Military Force and is what makes the Military the ‘well oiled machine’ that it is. Everyone in the team knows what must be done, how it must be done and by whom and this is re-iterated continually throughout the training so that it comes as second nature to everyone.

Safety is the last aspect that we will be discussing as part of this BLOG.  Now I know when I say ‘Safety’ everyone thinks Health & Safety – “what a pile of hogwash”, “it is just too hard”, “it stops us doing our job” etc etc.  RELAX! Nice deep breath and to spare you all I will not discuss HEALTH & SAFETY under this.

Even though the connotation of H&S is the probably applicable and H&S is the flavour of the month, I was thinking more along the lines of keeping your Business Focused on the Objective.

As part of the Business Plan we would have developed a set of Objectives to reach and we can see these objectives as a Series of ‘Target’s’ on a Map – exactly like we would in the military you would have a series of targets on and close to enemy positions with a mission to accomplish as a result of engaging these target.

These objectives are all linked to your Mission, as a Business, to ensure that you meet your goals.  From time to time you will have ‘targets’ outside the ‘firing arc’ and these objectives would have been on the NICE to HAVE list rather than the MUST HAVE list of objectives.

Many of us when we started reading this article did not bring the concept of Military Planning and My Business together and were probably think ‘How is this applicable to me?’

From the article we can see at a high level how we can learn from Military Planning & Strategy and how applicable it actually is on your Business.

Leaving you with a Quote regarding the Artillery – The Latin phrase “Ultima Ratio Regum”, coined by Louis XIV, and rather descriptive of the role of the artillery – meaning “The Last Argument of Kings

Gunner Greetings