Have you ever driven a car towing a trailer and then tried to back up? Your senses got jumbled. Even though your mind told you to steer left, you had to steer right to move the back end of the trailer in the direction you wanted to go.
Recently, the Association for Strategic Planning, Los Angeles chapter, hosted two excellent strategist who spoke from the future. Ivan Rosenberg and Daniel Feiman discussed strategic planning by looking at the future and working backwards. Both speakers contributed to The Book on Business from A to Z, the 260 Most Important Answers You Need to Know. The book is nominated for E-book of the year.
Of the seven points they discussed about “seeing the future” to plan the strategy of today, the one that interested me the most was the “vision.” The speakers not only explained that a vision should be inspiring, but should be much broader and much, much farther in the future than a standard business plan.
Now, most strategist know that a business plan is a management document, not a strategy document. However, this “vision” approach helps look between the lines of the business plan in promoting to the world what the business believes in, not just what it sells.
As our speakers said, if you start from the future, and that is 20+ years, you can design the strategy and tactics necessary to get there, today. Jim Collins describes this as his Big Hairy Audacious Goals in his book, Built to Last. As Jim quoted Teddy Roosevelt, ” Far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory, not defeat.”
When designing a business plan, think strategically. When implementing strategy, build a business plan. Normally, business plans look forward starting at a current place in time. However, if you start a business plan by strategizing from the future, you create a new dimension of striving for a vision that surpasses the limited confines of a normal business plan.
Most small and medium-sized businesses find this concept foreign because businesses usually only want to know two things: 1) What are my sales? And 2) Do I have enough money to make payroll?
When these businesses focus on only the ground in front of them, they fail to see the direction they are travelling until they drive off a cliff. And then it is too late.