Planning and Execution – Ground Rule #1

This is the next in a series of posts that will describe what the CEO of the Reliance Electric Company thought about basic commitments, how the organization was going to operate and ground rules for managers. Once again, all the content of this article is based on the work of B. Charles Ames as outlined in his management manifesto titled Basic Management Concepts dated January 14, 1974.

Planning and Execution – Ground Rule #1 – Good Planning. Great Execution

Good planning is the key to successful results. A good plan is like a GPS app. You start at Point A, choose a destination and the app maps a simple, straightforward course between Point A and Point B. Your GPS helps you get back on course when you make a wrong turn. It allows you to take a side trip should you choose. Without your GPS…your plan…you are flying blind.

The plan must be in writing. Many small business owners claim to have the plan in their head. Unless the people in the rest of the organization are mind readers, a plan that is not in writing does not exist. It is the discipline of writing the plan that helps to identify blind spots and allows critical feedback during the planning process.

A business plan does not need to be elaborate. No need to worry about sentence structure. Don’t get hung up on the format. And, no matter how complex, a good plan that has been thought through properly can be summarized in a few paragraphs. Yes, keep it simple.

Planning alone, however, accomplishes nothing. People have to do things to get things done. Execution is critical. Further, according to Ames, “A Grade “B” plan properly executed will yield better results than a Grade “A” plan weakly executed every time.”

Or, as General George Patton put it, “A good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

The danger of becoming so caught up in the planning process that nothing gets accomplished is real. It is important to understand that 90% of the benefit from the planning process comes from the first 20% of the planning process effort. The next 80% of the effort simply makes people feel good. It also stands in the way of getting on with the real work that needs to be done.

B. Chuck Ames and his wife Jay currently manage the Ames Family Foundation. They divide their time between a home in Vero Beach, Florida and a second home in a suburb of Cleveland.


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