Well, the manuscript for “Plans to Reality – why things don’t happen and how to make sure they do” was sent to a prospective publisher yesterday – it took maybe a couple of minutes to transmit 76,000 words that has taken me the best part of two years to write! How depressing! Mind you, backing the manuscript up on a USB memory stick is even more so – 4-5 seconds max when the book was completed.
I finally ended up with 36 barriers to implementation, 13 relating to planning, 14 relating to implementation, 6 relating to monitoring and measuring and the remaining 3 to the revision of the original plan. The barriers are arranged sequentially using the Wagon Wheel business model as a framework so in essence if you run foul of Barrier No.1, no amount of athleticism in leaping over barriers nos. 2 – 35 will help. Barrier No. 36 effectively says that if it ain’t working change the plan so that brings you back to Barrier No.1 again and the wheel has turned full circle – which brings me to the topic of this blog – customer feedback surveys.
How are you surviving the fall out from the GFC? Is your current business strategy still realistic or did you abandon it eighteen months ago? If your revenue is down, to what extent is that due to the business environment over which you have no control? Or is some of it due to loss of market share caused by a continuance of a premium pricing strategy that is no longer tenable or a reluctance to modify your product offerings to meet changing customer needs? That’s assuming that they have changed. Would you know? Or have you been cutting corners in your efforts to cut costs? How is your competitive advantage holding up? Do you know what it is? Do you have more than one? How do you know whether your competitors have matched it and neutralised it?
That’s a lot of questions but all of them and more can be answered by a customer feedback survey and the findings fed into your strategic plan. Why base the plan on gut feel and anecdotes and qualitative information when you could base it on quantitative data provided by your customers? As I said in a previous blog, the first priority in your strategic planning is to improve your existing business and a feedback survey will show you how much scope you have to do this.
Then the hard part starts – making it happen! But before you attempt to leap the barriers to execution, there are twelve more planning barriers that need addressing. I won’t mention them here but I can provide a copy of all 36 on request.
My first boss used to say to me whenever I queried some aspect of his business planning: “Graham, don’t confuse me with facts, I’ve already made up my mind!” He relied a lot on his vast experience but that was 40 years ago. Business strategies have much shorter life cycles these days. They need a lot of maintenance if they are to perform at their best.