Business Planning

A New Model of Board Effectiveness

A New Model of Board Effectiveness

Lencioni’s “5 Dysfunctions of a Team” provides a useful framework for examining Board effectiveness and how to drive better decisions, commitment and accountability to a single, unifying goal. More importantly, it creates an environment in which interpersonal conflict, bias and self interest can be dealt with constructively, for the good of the organisation.

A Business Plan Isn’t About the Document

Most organisations I’ve worked in and worked with, begrudge business planning.  Not because they don’t know how, but because it didn’t add a lot of value last time they did it.

But why doesn’t it add value?  The problem lies in the lack of direction it contains and how it’s used once it’s created.

The value of a map comes from the direction you take from it
— Matthew Dunstan

Instead of a document, we need a roadmap.  Something that guides the evolution of the business, gives us concrete milestones and acts as a filter for every day decisions and actions.

To cross an ocean, you need waypoints

When we crossed the Atlantic, we didn’t just point the boat east and start sailing.  We planned a route with a number of major waypoints along the way. Even when circumstances would force us off course, the overall plan still held true.  Our goal was clear.  Our route, chosen for all the right reasons, was still valid. Our waypoints still gave us a short term focus, helping us break the endeavour down into manageable pieces.

The best business plan is one you can draw

I believe business plans need this same approach.  A destination, a broad plan describing how you’re going to get there and a series of waypoints to guide you day to day.  You can document this in a number of ways, but my favourite is to show it in a Gantt chart or flow chart format.  It allows you to capture the direction, strategy and sequence on a single page that is easy to communicate and review.

[we’re running a Business Planning Masterclass in July to help leaders and entrepreneurs craft better business plans]

Best use of a business plan

Of course crafting the plan is just the start.  Nothing happens without execution and this is the second challenge for business plans and those responsible for them.  

Instead of regarding it as a job done, the business plan should drive the agenda of your management meetings.  To illustrate, here’s a sample of a standing management meeting agenda I use with clients.  We start every management meeting with these 3 items:

  1. Touch base with the overall plan

    • Where we’re headed & why we care (vision, mission, goals)

    • Our plan to get there (strategy, roadmap, & immediate milestones)

  2. Progress against the immediate milestone

    • Report on action items from each stakeholder

  3. New opportunities or threats to the business.

    • Validate against the plan

The shiny-ball filter

Starting the meeting ‘with the end in mind’ (Covey), is a great way to keep everyone on the same page and most importantly, align the actions and initiatives of the team to your plan for the business.  It helps keep the focus at a strategic level and acts as a useful filter against which you can review actions, ideas and opportunities:

  • If they contribute to or accelerate the plan, they’re in.
  • If they relate to a milestone further down the track, they’re parked.
  • If they’re not aligned to the plan, they’re out.

[Further reading: Entrepreneur’s Shiny Ball Syndrome]

With a clear direction and roadmap a business plan can act as a valuable tool guiding the day to day operations of the business.  So dust it off, reduce it to a flow chart and get it onto the management meeting agenda. 

Strategic oversight and consistent implementation will focus your resources and drive your business faster than anything else.

[Rising Tide Ventures will be holding a series of Business Planning Masterclasses during July.  You can find out more or register here]

Set a New Course for the New Year

6 things you need to review in your business over the holiday season.

The New Year period is typically a time when business slows down. It’s also the perfect time to work on your business rather than in it.  Now’s the time to plot the course corrections that will dial things up a notch in the year to come.

Plot a course 2.jpg

Corporates and multinationals around the world use the December/January period as a time to review the progress of the business and so should you.  But where to start?  In essence, there are 6 aspects of your business that could use a little refresh as a part of your mid-year review:

  1. Your direction, goals and purpose
  2. The market’s true needs and wants
  3. Opportunities to innovate and inspire
  4. An honest assessment of your strengths & weaknesses and your game plan for pursuing the opportunities aligned to the business direction.
  5. Your roadmap of key milestones to achieve
  6. Fine tuning your marketing and sales processes to focus your efforts for best effect.
Download our full Guide to Mid-Year Review planning here

1. Reconnect with your direction, your goals and why you care.

Surprisingly, many businesses don’t actually have a destination in mind.  It’s no wonder then that they drift from one opportunity to another without any noticeable growth or improvement. 

Every business needs to reconnect periodically with where they’re headed, why it’s important and what they’re trying to achieve.

Your objective:

  • Choose a destination, you’ll then have something you can plan towards.

  • Know why you care.  When the weather gets rough, it’s this knowledge that puts the wind back in your sails (it’s also what inspires your customers).

2. Spend some time in your customer’s shoes.

Chances are you’re going to be doing a lot of socialising during the holidays.  Well put that time to good use.  Ask those in your target market about their hopes for the New Year, the challenges they’ve been wrestling with and what they’re trying to get done.

Your objective:

  • Discover new customer insights

  • Develop more informed marketing messaging

  • Create new ideas for higher value products & services

3. Create something unique.

It’s not enough to be better, you have to be different – and we’re not talking about a new slogan or colour scheme.  To be truly compelling, your business needs an offer which is creative, memorable and engaging.

Your objective:

  • Create a unique and compelling differentiator

  • Generate buzz, excitement and discussion in the market

  • Drive energy and enthusiasm for a new initiative in your business

4. Review your SWOT & business strategy.

If you know your strengths, you’re able to capitalise on them.  If you know your weaknesses, you can compensate for them.  A good strategy allows you to address these whilst you choose and chase the opportunities aligned to your business.

Your objective:

  • Define which opportunities to pursue and which are a distraction.

  • Understand where you need to strengthen your business.

  • Create a single, consistent game plan to put all of your effort behind.

5. Create a Roadmap of Milestones

Now that you’re tuned into what you’re trying to accomplish, what are the waypoints you need to reach along the way?  What’s your first target and what’s the sequence for the rest?

Your objective:

  • A clear roadmap with key milestones you need to achieve along the way.

  • Specific actions, timeframes and accountabilities for what you need to do first

6. Review your lead generation systems

Most businesses won’t have a formal lead generation system but none the less, customers will have found them somehow during the year – even if by mistake! (a.k.a. unconscious competence). 

This is the time of the year polish up those lead gen activities and make them work together like a well-oiled machine (become consciously competent!).

Your objective:

  • Define YOUR method for filling the pipeline and growing your business

  • Focus your energy, activity and cash towards a streamlined lead-gen approach

  • Design a new marketing campaign for the New Year

You don’t have to do it in the boardroom – on the beach is fine!

Many people complain that they don’t have the time to work on their business – that they’re too busy “doing the business”.  Well, the holiday period is your chance!  It’s the perfect opportunity for you to step back from the detail and review where you’re headed, why you care and your plan to get there. 

Find your favourite location away from the office, hold the mirror up to yourself and review the key components of your business plan that will drive your success in the year to come.

More Resources:

Free Guide to Mid-Year Review

Rising Tide Ventures has published its “Guide to Performing Your Mid-Year Review”, free to download at

Free MYR Planning Podcast Series

For those who prefer to work on these things with others, we’re hosting a free, 6 part podcast series to help you walk through the MYR planning process.  You can find out more & register online at