David FullerIt was all fun and games, with a class of kids having an outdoor adventure while playing a game of trust when the accident happened.

The game involved one child leading the other, who was blindfolded, around the campground, letting the blindfolded one try to figure out what they were encountering while avoiding danger.

Unfortunately, Cassidy couldn’t see the tree because she was blindfolded and Emily didn’t see the root because she was concentrating on leading Cassidy to the tree. The moment Cassidy tripped over the root and smashed her face into the tree is exactly the instant her tooth popped out.

For many businesses, 2020 was like that.

Companies were going through the forest without a plan, blinded by the unknown. As a result, many unfortunate events led to disastrous results.

Some companies were managed by seemingly blindfolded people who didn’t adjust their strategy until late in the game, preventing them from seeing opportunities and dangers.  Others were misguided, while others just stuck their heads in the sand, sending their people home in order to give everyone some time to figure things out.

The problem is many businesses had no plan to avoid the dangers facing them, which resulted in confusion and panic.

Unfortunately, many organizations don’t understand what to do when it comes to planning. They don’t have a process to engage their teams in planning other than the accepted traditional dictatorial approach: “I have this idea and I want you to follow.”

Regrettably for many businesses, when they think about planning, budgeting is what actually happens.

For many years in my retail business, I didn’t plan. Because I had the opportunity to sit on the boards of some national associations, I was exposed to the idea of planning. However, many of those organizations didn’t plan well and I thought planning equalled budgeting. I would automatically figure on an increase of five per cent across the board for my expenses and hope for the best.

In hindsight, planning would have made a significant difference in several businesses I naively instigated.

What exactly is effective business planning?

Every leader has an idea in their mind of where they want the organization to go. Planning is the development of those ideas and the process of documenting them so others can appreciate your plan.

Effective business planning includes involving others in the process and having procedures to keep everyone accountable as things move forward. On Dec. 15, I’m offering a free half-day workshop online for any organization – profit or non-profit – that would like to engage their team for the upcoming year. Email me if you want your team to be involved and I will send you the details.

When I started engaging my team in annual planning, I realized what I had been missing for so many years. As a leader, I thought I was the only one responsible for setting the direction and coming up with a plan for implementation. By getting the key people in my business involved in the process, I found we had better ideas. And because they shared my commitment, those ideas were implemented for the full year.

The results were amazing. Not only did we perform better, my staff seemed happier. And because they had come up with many of the ideas, they looked forward to implementing them.

I was able to spend less time micromanaging and more time on higher level issues.

It can be fun to walk around blindfolded once in a while. However, the dangers of a misstep can be significantly reduced when numerous people are looking for challenges or opportunities.

Luckily for Cassidy, her mom had a dental program that allowed her to continue to have a beautiful smile. Fortunately, decades later, Cassidy and Emily remain friends.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Feeling blindfolded? Email [email protected]

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