Strategic Plans are a Delusion

We have a false narrative that our strategic plan will magically carry us to our goals. What you really need is an adaptable plan and the right people to implement it no matter what the world throws at you.

I’ve been a part of a number of mastermind groups for years; I go to see speakers all the time, I’m constantly reading, watching, and engaging, looking for inspiration and useful tools to propel me and my business forward.  But it’s been a long time since I was truly inspired and WOW’d by a book or speaker.

That changed last Tuesday at a remarkable event with 15 entrepreneurs from all over the world.

The speaker who blew me away was Eric Kish. He’s a turnaround CEO who practices Intent Driven Management, a methodology inspired by a 200-year-old military leadership philosophy which he channels into developing practical tactics to grow and scale businesses… and oh btw, he speaks six languages. Do yourself a favor and look him up.

His presentation about scaling was awesome! It opened my eyes to a number of things I thought I had planted as foundational roots and enabled me to focus on the key elements most important to scaling my business.

There’s a fundamental difference between scaling your business vs growing your business.

Growing a business is generally pretty linear. Company adds resource (capital, tech, people) > revenue increases as a result.

Scaling your business is growing it by 10x with less than 10x the resources.

A scalable business adds revenue rapidly while adding resources incrementally so that costs don’t grow faster than revenues.

As an entrepreneur, you have to know where you wanna go, why you wanna go there, and when you wanna get there – AND – You have to articulate that to your team very clearly.

Does everyone in the company KNOW the strategic plan? Does the leadership team know exactly where you need to go in the next six or twelve months?

To accomplish that you’ve got to have strategic plan… right?

You also have to realize that your plan is only a small part of it.

We have this false narrative that our strategic plans will magically carry us to our goals.

“Everybody had a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson

We spend all this time and energy creating the plan and then we go on autopilot. We sit behind a strategy that doesn’t get dusted off, checked on, and updated as often as it should.

Are we analyzing the plan? Are we living the plan, making adjustments and course correcting as we go? Or are we working in accordance with a plan that will never come to fruition because it’s not built to adapt?

The truth is nobody can predict the future. I don’t dictate what my company does, the market makes clear what it wants, and we do our best to anticipate that and to adapt when we can’t.

The pandemic is the ultimate example for that.

Let’s say you have an amazing brick-and-mortar store, to survive the pandemic, you needed some form of ecommerce. The only way you’ll continue winning is if you and the people around you can adapt to unforeseen circumstances. You need a group of team members capable of agility and quickly pivoting to adapt to changing circumstances while continuing to move in accordance with your company’s values and mission.

You can surround yourself with “Yes” people who will bob their heads and follow the plan no matter what and just hope and wish it will turn around, or you can surround yourself with people who are ready, willing, and able to challenge the status quo and make changes rapidly and effectively.

If there can be said to be a silver lining for such a thing, the silver lining for businesses weathering the pandemic is that we’ve all been shaken up. It’s been an unprecedented test of most organizations, on all fronts. Those that have come out stronger are those who invested in their people beforehand.

It’s an excellent opportunity to take a pulse and evaluate the members of your team. Where do you want your business to go? Take that and use it as the measuring stick to evaluate if you have the right people in the right seats, going the right direction in the bus.

If you do, that’s great! If not, that’s the first step to scaling vs growing organically.

I’m allergic to status quo. I firmly believe that if you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backwards. Surround yourself with people smarter than you and give those people the space to make the decisions necessary to scale and grow the business.

One of my biggest takeaways from Eric’s talk was that the only true barrier to properly scaling your business 10x is directly related to your number one most important resource: Your people.

Are your people and teams tactically ready for anything?

I’ve been preaching that for years, but it was riveting to have it put in front of me like that.

Ask yourself this: What is the number one challenge hindering your ability to scale your business?

Take your time. Find it. And write it down.

My personal number one challenge is a limiting mindset.

And it all comes down to people.

If your limiting mindset is “I can’t scale because I don’t have the tech.” Who on your team has that mindset? If your mindset is that you can’t scale because your supply chain can’t adapt, who’s your supply chain manager? Are they helping or hurting that mindset?

At Roma, we’re scaling because we have great products – but mostly it’s because we’re attracting insanely talented people interested in trying new things in an industry that’s generally okay with “just okay.”

We are 100% where we are today because of our people. They are unequivocally our greatest resource.

Where are you? Are you moving forward or falling behind?

Ask yourself where you are and why you are where you are.

Let me know. I’d love to hear about it and chat.

Tony Gareri

CEO & Culture Enthusiast

Drawing from firsthand experiences, Tony addresses how a culture evolution can lead to improved business results and happier work environments.

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