Business Planning Guide

3 Missing Steps Needed To Make Business Planning Work


Effective Business Planning is critical in the development and growth of your business. It will help you to align your business, core activities and people around your main business function and focus, and grow your business towards success. However, in many organisations the planning process does not seem to produce the outcomes that everyone expects. That’s often because there are three crucial steps that are either missing or not done correctly.

The Business Planning Process

As a good manager you know that having a plan is vital to drive you organisation forward. The basic steps in creating a business plan are very straightforward. These basic steps are also the quickest way to achieve bottom line results. The problem is that sometimes they don’t work, or work only for the short term.



There are a number of reasons why this straightforward planning process runs into trouble. Firstly and most obviously, there is the fact that the day to day pressures of running the business simply get in the way, and many organisations struggle to find the time to formulate even the most basic plan. They just never get around to it.

Second, once formulated, the plan can prove difficult to achieve. In part this may be due to a lack of focus on priorities, or because of previous poor experience of plans that have gone wrong. People are just not convinced that it will work, so it doesn’t.

Thirdly, the plan may never be reviewed or revised in light of changing market or business circumstances. In the worst case scenario the plan languishes unread in a filing cabinet until the next annual review process when it’s time to start planning all over again. And so the cycle of failure repeats itself.

So what can be done make sure your Business Planning Process delivers on the promise of growth that you and everyone else expects from it – a sustainable and expanding business delivering improving results that give increasing bottom line success?

The 3 Missing Steps

The simple planning process above misses out three crucial steps without which even the best plan will struggle to be formulated, struggle to be written down, struggle to be implemented with any conviction, and so will struggle to make any real difference to the bottom line in an organisation in the long term.



Missing Step 1: Create Alignment

Businesses are made up of teams that operate at all levels in the business. To be effective, team leaders at all levels need to create alignment within and between their teams, and between all the other operational units of the business – alignment around the core business purpose. To achieve this, there needs to be consultations and discussions between the top team and team leaders all levels of the business to align them around the core purpose. As a business leader you will need to have ways to communicate and explain the purpose and key objectives of the business to your employees, suppliers and customers – communicate with everyone in your supply chain.

Missing Step 2: Get Engagement

Once the plan is formulated after consultation, discussion and alignment around core purpose, its implementation will involve commitment and contribution from your operational managers, line managers and staff at all levels in the business. Their contribution is to produce actions, systems and processes that will deliver the plan. There will also be opportunities for them to develop individual strengths though coaching and delegation. They will need to nurture talent and create the future leaders of the business through training, secondments and promotions within the business.

Missing Step 3: Review and Learn

To maintain and encourage business growth it is important that you create a culture that supports and rewards continuous learning and improvement. You will need to establish ways to identify, acknowledge and celebrate initiative and extraordinary effort as well as the achievement of strategic goals, significant milestones and critical targets. It is also important that you develop in your leaders the knowledge and skills to encourage and build on what works, and the capability and courage to challenge and change what doesn’t.

These “Missing Steps” reflect one of the many important aspects of the difference between management and leadership. While planning and delivery are clearly essential management processes for achieving results, leadership involves a broader focus on people and their commitment to and involvement in the business. When both come together in a complimentary way the power created is phenomenal.

Through effective business planning, both leadership and management combine their respective strengths to make an outstanding contribution to the long term success of the business. This is because Effective Business Planning engages the complimentary and differentiated focus of each discipline.

The Z Plan

In my view, nothing represents the power of the synergy of, and dependencies between, Leadership and Management more than the Z Plan. It demonstrates how to combine the amazing illumination of a leadership focus and the outstanding effectiveness of a management focus. Both bring essential benefits that will drive growth forwards in a successful business.


Although all 6 steps are quite simple to describe, they are more complicated and difficult to complete in practice. That is because there are fundamental differences in what is required at various levels of role and responsibility within a business. For example, the strategic responsibilities of the Board and Top Team are qualitatively different from the operational responsibilities of the Directors and Heads of Department or Heads of Operations. They in turn are significantly different from the day to day tactical responsibilities of the Line Managers, Supervisors and Team Leaders. When all of the responsibilities at all of the levels are co-ordinated and aligned within efficient business structures and systems, there is a synergy that develops, a momentum that drives the business to grow exponentially.

Leadership is about much more than just a job title. You need top develop the subtly of skills needed to handle and balance the complex relationship between management and leadership in your business. This is one key focus of our “Leadership Skills Development Programme”We have helped many client organisations like yours to accelerate their growth. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your business to grow, please feel free to get in touch on 0800 840 4122 for a no obligation discussion.