Operations Planning Simplified

I was reminded this week, once again, that your operating strategy does not have to be complicated to be excellent.

A good friend of mine is the CFO of an extremely successful professional property management company. While spending the day with him, we looked back on the past five years and what where the real reasons they were successful. How were they able to position themselves so well?

The answers were not surprising. In fact, they were the textbook answers. (My Strategic Management Professor would be so impressed) “Start with the Vision and then move down the path to the Mission, Objectives and Goals.” Wow! What a break through! And the reality was this is exactly what they had done.

So what was the difference?

The difference was the conviction with which this team of executives went about defining both themselves and these three tasks:

  1. Have a Tangilble Vision and Believe in the Vision.
  2. Stay Focused
  3. Build the Infrastructure to Support the Vision.

It is that simple and that complicated at the same time! Here is what I mean by that.

How many corporate “Visioning Sessions” have you been a part of? Early in my career, I was included in a number of these sessions and I can only describe them as paint-by-numbers sessions. Sure, all of the colors, numbers and painting areas were clearly defined, but our pictures never turned out like the front of the box. It was only through years of experience that I figured out the missing ingredient: conviction. Even if you have all of the required supplies, it still takes cnviction on your part to develop a Tangible Vision. My advice, have a few of those “paint-by-numbers” sessions and I am sure that the last vision  you paint, will look better than the first.

Once you have the vision… STAY FOCUSED! It is easy to get distracted in business today. I work with clients all the time that have great ideas that could spawn whole new business ventures. This is where a Tangible Vision is so important. When the great ideas spring up, I notice that my clients that have a strong vision, refer back to it often in deciding how to proceed. If it does not fit the vision, then you need to seriously consider moving it to the “parking lot” and save it for another time.

Finally, plan for success. Build your people, processes, technology and metrics to support your vision. If you have executed on points 1 and 2, then do not be surprised wen you are successful. And don’t let your mid and back-offices be your failure points. Build the infrastructure to scale and support that success. Are you limping along with Microsoft Outlook and Excel as your ERP package or are you running an integrated, scalable infrastructure that can handle 5x or 10x the current volume?

Three fairly simple things that make the difference. Spending the day with my friend was a great reminder of what it takes to be successful- Conviction.

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