The Challenge Defined
A critical component of running a successful business is creating a dynamic method of planning that is accessible to the entire organization and allows contribution by all the staff. Consider the two different roles of a watchmaker and a beekeeper:
The beekeeper operates surrounded by constant change and chaos. He facilitates rather than controls the health of 125,000 bees living and working out of 55 white, three-foot-high wooden hives. The beekeeper can only foster an environment that supports the bees to produce honey.
In reality, the hive is an intelligent, self-organizing, adaptive organism able to adjust and innovate solutions to meet the challenges encountered during the natural course of events in nature. If the hive were to be dropped and broken into pieces, the bees would very likely relocate their home base and start anew on the business of making honey.
The watchmaker, on the other hand, works in a much different setting – a setting of precision and control. Every piece of a watch is machined to within 100ths of an inch. The watches are all finely calibrated and constructed under rigid manufacturing processes. The watchmaker controls the assembly of these precision watches and controls the business in a similar manner.
If the watch were to be accidentally dropped onto a concrete floor, it would likely break into numerous pieces and stop working until someone or some outside force came along to repair it. While the watch gives the appearance of being a highly tuned instrument, it will never find a solution on its own, and it can’t adapt to conditions foreign to its design.
Unlike watchmakers, beekeepers have a natural facility to work with the sisters of growth, complexity and chaos. They are more likely to let the intelligence of the team be the operator of themselves. But most importantly, beekeepers’ businesses will continually self-organize around problems and challenges.
In the world of an entrepreneur, creating a culture of involvement, a culture of self-regulation where each person has a voice and plans are fluid and intentionally authored by the entire staff, will improve the company’s ability to grow.
Why This Challenge Must Be Resolved
The reality for too many businesses is they grow in spite of themselves. Leaders end up in reactive mode year after year and while some follow this path, the toll is heavy. Employees feel the pain and leave, opting for something more stable.
This is why creating a flexible planning model for a business is more about tapping into the intelligence of the organization and not relying on the expertise of a single person—the CEO/owner. The process used to plan must be inclusive in order for employees to buy-in and commit to helping those plans come to life.
Critical Questions to Ask
- Does the company understand how they plan to grow?
- Do you have a six-month short-term plan, especially if you are in crisis mode?
- Does the company evaluate its strategic planning concepts regularly and make adjustments?
- Is there a feedback loop to identify improvements in processes?
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