“I ain’t Martin Luther King. I don’t need a dream. I have a plan.” ?  – Spike Lee, actor and director

Having a plan is critical to success, in business and in life. You need to know where you are going and what you are going to do along the way.

Drawing on my experience in food and beverage marketing (and this applies to consumer and B2B initiatives), even the best creative work will be ineffective if it’s not given the appropriate channels and opportunities to shine. Below are key planning components that will put you on the road to success. A good plan will have the following.

If you’re not working toward a goal, you’re not working efficiently (and likely not effectively, either).Click To Tweet

A Defined Goal

Having a clearly articulate goal shaping actions will provide the following benefits:

  • Direct strategies and tactics
  • Provide a filter for decision-making
  • Ensure accountability for actions

If you’re not working toward a goal, you’re not working efficiently (and likely not effectively, either).

Provide a Roadmap

Once you define what you’re doing, you need to take into account all that needs to happen – and when – in order to achieve those goals. This tactical plan will help:

  • Integrate various workstreams
  • Identify key milestones and critical junctures (ideally overlaid on a calendar)
  • Track progress toward goals

Force Prioritization

What elements are most critical for success? If timing and budget don’t allow for everything in the initial roadmap, what is going to offer the most value and drive desired results most effectively? Prioritization allows managers to:

  • Focus on what must get done, and delay non-essential components
  • Avoid team burnout created through work on tasks that are “urgent” but non-important
  • Efficiently allocate resources – both time and money

Ensure Alignment

Working in multi-matrixed teams is complex. Layer in geography and different workstyles and it becomes critical to have an approach outlined to keep everyone moving in the same direction. Crating a plan ensures your team:

  • Knows goals and timelines
  • Sees how their work contributes to the bigger whole
  • Ensures that each team member has a stake in the success of implementing the plan

As I mentioned in this post, even the best-laid plans will hit bumps in the road and require adjustment. But, you have to have a plan in order to adjust it (and bring everyone involved along with you). Having a written point of reference will serve as a compass to drive sound decision-making and ensure that the goal is achieved.

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