Many entrepreneurs get caught up in crafting a beautiful, detailed plan that they will likely end up never taking action on. Strategic planning is extremely important in setting yourself up for success, but there is a lot of merit in simplifying that process. An ideal plan accounts for what can be anticipated, but also gives you the flexibility to pivot based on what you learn or in case some crazy stuff happens in the world or your life. Listen in as Crista Grasso discusses the common mistakes that entrepreneurs make around planning and suggests a system by which you can create a more flexible and efficient plan for your business.
In this episode, I discuss:
- Simplifying planning
- An intro to the 3 types of planners
- Type 1 - The Winger
- Type 2 - The Psychic
- Type 3 - The Adapter
- How to put simple planning in practice
- What to do next
Tune into Episode 4 of the Lean Out Your Business Podcast or keep reading below.
How To Simplify Your Planning For Better Results
I'm super excited to dive in and talk to you about planning. In particular, what I want to dive into with you is how to do your planning more effectively and in less time. As you're getting ready to focus on your goals for the year and for the upcoming 90 days, you want to make sure that you're setting yourself up for success. A good way to do that is with proper planning.
A mistake that I see so many people make is that they way over plan, or as one of my clients likes to call it, procasti-planning. They put all of their time and effort into crafting this beautiful, detailed plan that they either never take action on or things end up shifting, and they need to pivot that plan.
A lot of that ended up being wasted time and effort that they could have been spending growing and scaling their business instead of just planning.
I want to talk to you about that proper balance between making sure that you have the right long-term plans in place, but not over-planning and putting too much detail into things too far in advance. I 'm going to share with you what I call the 15 x 1 planning model. That to me is an efficient way to do your planning in only fifteen minutes a day and 1 hour a week, which should be more than enough time to do what you need to do to achieve your goals when you're focused on lean strategic planning.
We're going to dive into that, but first let's go through a fun little activity that I call the three types of planners.
Let's see which one you, and your clients, align best to.
Planner Type #1: The Winger
Let's start with number one, The Winger (which for those of you who watch Community, every time I say this, I think of Jeff Winger from that show).
The Winger is also known as the under planner. They do not invest much time in planning at all. They are much more of a make it up as they go along type of person and they act on gut instinct. The look at what's working and reactively make their decisions on what actions to take based on that.
There are certainly pros to trusting your instincts and making some of your decisions and choosing which actions you're going to take based on what's working. However there are risks with this approach as well and Wingers are typically the slowest type of planners to ever reach their goals, and there is a lack of consistency in their success.
More often than not, their success feels like a lucky break instead of a real strategic plan, because they are making it up as they go along. They don't have that clear roadmap for where they're going and how they're going to get there. They end up just going with the flow and pivoting sometimes a little too often or aimlessly.
When something works, they can't always repeat that success because there wasn't a lot of real intention or strategy behind it so they are always on a revenue and success rollercoaster.
Planner Type #2: The Psychic
Number two is what I call the Psychic, also known as your classic over planner. They think they can predict the future and that they know exactly what is going to happen in their business when, what needs to be done and how to do it. They've got the super detailed, built in advance, pretty plan that specifies exactly how they are going to reach their goals for the next 90 days. Maybe even for the next year. Hell, I've even seen people with super detailed 10 year plans.
They've gone through and done their SWOT analysis, they've done their risk analysis, they've evaluated it and sliced and diced it from every different angle. They've got a plan that they are confident they are going to be able to deliver and they believe that they're going to do it precisely just as they said they were going to in their plan.
This type of plan is especially risky because it can provide a false sense of confidence and certainty that doesn't actually exist.
I think 2020 highlighted that there are things that happen in our businesses, our lives, and in the world that are out of our control and that we can't possibly predict.
So does that mean you shouldn't plan? No, just the opposite.
You should absolutely have a plan, but beware of over-planning and not leaving enough space and flexibility for the one thing that most people forget about when doing their planning - unknown unknowns.
"PRO PLANNING TIP: Beware of over-planning and not leaving enough space and flexibility for the one thing that most people forget about when doing their planning - unknown unknowns." - Crista Grasso Click to Tweet
You can obviously account for and plan for the 'knowns'. You can even plan for the 'known unknowns' by building in buffers, but unknown unknowns are not things you can plan for so you need to create space in your plan for the adaptability that you're going to need when you encounter them.
Another challenge for the psychic group is they get very stubbornly tied to their plan - “I said I was going to do it. I committed to doing it. I told people I was going to do it. I wrote it down. Therefore, I am doing it.”
Sometimes that stubbornness to deliver the plan at all costs ends up keeping them from actually doing things more simply, leaning things out, and shifting and pivoting what they're doing to better align with what their customers want over time.
The fact that the Psychic takes the time to do up front analysis and to think things through before diving right into something is certainly a pro. However, they also set themselves up for a world of hurt when things don't go according to plan, which realistically happens more often than not.
Planner Type #3: The Adapter
This takes us to our third planner type, the Adapter, or what I call your Lean Strategic Planner. This is obviously where I think people should be and where we want to be focused.
The Adapter invests the time to create a strategic plan, but they keep their longer-term plans high level and directional instead of specific and prescriptive. They take their short-term plans and they define them just in time.
For example, when they get their 90-day Lean Out Planner, they're not filling out every single day in their planner at the beginning of the 90 days. They're filling out their day in their planner that morning and their week in their planner at the start of the week.
They balance doing their more detailed planning just in time, with doing their more high-level directional planning in advance.
The Adapter always has clarity on where they're going and they know why it's important so that they can leverage that to make decisions and pivot when they need to.
The most effective planning style is that of the Adapter. It blends the best of the winger and psychic types while eliminating the risks associated with each of them.
So what do you do if you're not starting off as an Adapter?
If you're starting off as more of a winger and are more of an under planner, the first thing you want to do is create the space and consistency in your schedule to plan. Leverage the 15 x 1 model to keep it simple. Hopefully you will find that planning does not need to be as involved or feel as restrictive or as burdensome as it can seem to someone who isn't a natural planner.
If you tend to be in the over planner camp, like I was early on in my career, know that there is an easier way and leverage those planning skills that you have to create a true lean strategic plan. Take that extra effort and energy you are used to investing in planning and put it into implementing the plan and achieving your goals and getting results.
Finding the Right Balance With Planning
How do you move into more of that adaptive planning style and find that right balance between high level and detailed? This is where the 15 x 1 planning model I developed comes in. In order to leverage the 15x1 model, you first need to start out by building out a lean strategic plan.
Create a Lean Strategic Plan
Get clear on what your goals are for the next 90 days. I recommend you have one overarching goal and one major focus for every 90-day period. You may have some supporting goals and projects that you're doing, but overall, you want one core focus area for that 90 days.
Once you have clarity on your goal, you can create a high level 90-day plan and roadmap by breaking that goal down into the projects and marketing campaigns needed to achieve it layered on top of the commitments you have with your current clients and programs and the things you need to do to run the business.
This should provide you with a general idea of what needs to be done when in order to deliver on your goal.
If you have taken the time to put lean strategic planning in place, you should be able to do your weekly planning and one hour a week, and you should be able to do your daily planning in fifteen minutes a day.
Leverage the 15x1 Planning Model to Simplify Planning
You'll take your 90-day roadmap and high level plan and break it down into what you need to be focused on week over week and day over day, just in time.
Creating Your Weekly Plan in 1 Hour a Week
It should take you an hour or less to create your plan for the new week and that time will be split between reflecting on the prior week and planning the new week.
You always want to start with reflection to evaluate what worked and what didn't work as well as what you learned and want to incorporate into this week's plan based on what happened in the prior week.
When you are building your plan for the upcoming week you want to look at both your overall roadmap and 90-day plan, as well as your learnings and what happened in the prior week as input.
Creating Your Daily Plan in 15 Minutes
It should take you 15 minutes or less to create your plan for the day. Most days it only takes me about 5 minutes to create my plan for the day in the morning, and I leverage the other 10 minutes at the end of the day to do my reflection for the day.
Simplifying Planning Summary
In summary, when you want to simplify planning for better results, follow these steps:
- Identify which type of planner you are
- Put the practices in place to be more of an Adapter if you are a Winger or Psychic today
- Implement lean strategic planning - download the guide here
- Follow the 15x1 planning model to plan in only 1 hour a week and 15 minutes a day
How will you be simplifying your approach to planning?
by Crista Grasso
Crista Grasso is the go-to strategic planning expert for leading global businesses and online entrepreneurs when they want to scale. Known as the "Business Optimizer", Crista has the ability to quickly cut through noise and focus on optimizing the core things that will make the biggest impact to scale a business simply and sustainably. She specializes in helping businesses gain clarity on the most important things that will drive maximum value for their clients and maximum profits for their business. She is the creator of the Lean Out Method, 90 Day Lean Out Planner, and host of the Lean Out Your Business Podcast.