Planning, Startups, Stories


Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

Planning Principle: Good Business Planning Empowers Accountability

It’s easier to be friends with your coworkers than to manage them well. Every small-business owner suffers the problem of management and accountability. Good business planning empowers accountability.

gears

Good business planning sets clear expectations and then follows up on results. It compares results with expectations. People on a team are held accountable only if management actually does the work of tracking results and communicating them, after the fact, to those responsible.

This is the fourth of my five principles of business planning. The first is do only what you’ll use. The second is that planning is continuous process, not just a plan. The third is that planning helps manage change and is not voided by change.

Good business planning develops metrics

Metrics are part of the problem. As a rule, we don’t develop the right metrics for people. Metrics aren’t right unless the people responsible understand them and believe in them. Will the measurement scheme show good and bad performances?

Remember, people need metrics. People want metrics. You and your business need metrics.

Then you have to track. That’s where the lean business plan creates a management advantage, because tracking and following up is part of its most important pieces. Set the review schedules in advance, make sure you have the right participants for the review, and then do it.

Good business planning develops expectations and feedback

In good teams, the negative feedback is in the metric. Nobody has to scold or lecture, because the team participated in generating the plan and the team reviews it, and good performances make people proud and happy, and bad performances make people embarrassed. It happens automatically. It’s part of the planning process. Besides, guilt and fear tactics are the worst kind of fake management.

And you must avoid the crystal ball and chain. Sometimes — actually, often — metrics go sour because assumptions have changed. Unforeseen events happen. You manage these times collaboratively, separating the effort from the results. Your team members see that and they believe in the process, and they’ll continue to contribute.