Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sailing in the Fog in a Blob...

If the plan is carved in stone it will fail...

Response to, "Business Plans can allow for the emergence of unexpected opportunities and threats..."

The purpose of planning particulary contingencies and scenarios is to try to anticipate opportunities and pitfalls prior to being "too far gone" to find a remedy and get the plan rolling again. Enter the Ssangyong Rodius, a "blobject" (?) of questionable design planning from a deflating company in serious trouble with sales falling 66% under bankruptcy protection over the last year. Were they sailing a blob into a blip market? Does bad design indicate bad planning?

In terms of desk-bound market research the funnel concept of evaluating ideas will help explore new opportunities and threats to the overall viability of the business plan. The plan is only as good as the planners and their ability to absorb and adapt to changing information and circumstances be they among market, competitors, present/future trends and uncertainties or even orientation to time?

The problem is humans sometimes resist information which does not confirm currently held views which might implicate specialists? This coupled to in-group/out-group biases helps reinforce outdated or outmoded views which could sink any plan and turn a good one into a bad one?

There are several research examples which provide that culturally based models of differentiation exist in national culture approaches to future uncertainties such as Geert Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions. In the case of in-group bias which appears to frequently blind businesses (even Intel or Microsoft for example) to their own blunders a classic book on the topic might be: Life and Death in the Fastlane: Irrational Organisations and Their Leaders by Manfred Kets DeVries.

You can read my own response to the difficulty in sourcing unbiased data here. I agree no one can plan for everything. But apparently the benefits of building a team with singularly different strengths and skillsets assists in approaching a plan, problem or solution as in the Delphi Method.

Sailing in a fog in a blob. Mix in a bit of luck and major road-blocks may at least be prepared for? I have yet to see a business planning concept which requests planners to first focus on their skill-set weaknesses to help stretch those capabilities and allow peer correction/discussion to take place followed by regular focus areas? If we are not planning to adapt to new threats and opportunities at all times then what are we doing? Playing IBM/GM/FIAT?

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