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Reflections on business planning

Written by Nick Ashley
3rd February 2020
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Red Rock staff talking business planning

Business Planning

We, the Red Rock international team in Doha, have just completed a mid-term review of our annual business plan which took three days.  There were ten of us involved, one of the team flew in from the UK and another from South Africa.  One person cut their holiday short in Brazil in order to be present.  We value the process as I’m sure you do.   Here are some comments on what we did, what we achieved, what went well and what we learned.

Getting the ambition right

We try to set a culture where meetings start on time and finish on time.  To finish on time, it is important to be realistic about what can be achieved in the time available to meet.  Most of us tend to think we can do more than what is realistic and then meetings overflow and can lose quality. We have four “purposes” around business development, service quality, community contribution and creating a great place to work. We set out to do the following:

  • Refresh our understanding of the current plan
  • Review and revise our targets
  • Revise the resources required – people, equipment, and training
  • Review and revise our marketing strategy

I think we got it about right.  What was more challenging for us was to keep track of what had been decided!  Our admin of the meetings was not so strong, next week we need to revise the plan and make sure the detail is recorded.

Letting the people talk

We have three smaller teams: the team build team, the learning and development team and the programme team. These groups broke out regularly to discuss the plan.  It is easy to hang around the table as a large group for too long.  A good meeting is one in which you have opportunity to put your ideas forward and be heard.

This generally worked well for us.  A noisy room of engaged people is a healthy sign. 

Getting engagement

I lead the team.  I’ve been in the business for over 20 years.  I’ve got the most experience.  Tempting therefore to assume that I’ve got all the answers, know the way forward.  But if I want to get engagement, if I want a plan that my team will want to execute from a heart level, I’ll need to give away responsibility and authority during the planning process.  This is the key to growth.

During our time we strengthened the authority of the three team leaders.  We made sure each team leader knew what their target was. We did our best to make sure each team leader has authority as well as responsibility, is able to make financial and people decisions as well as being responsible for delivery.  We now need to re-write our job descriptions and organiasation chart.

Bringing life

When planning, it is easy to be just numbered focused. This gets a little one dimensional.  I consider my team to be like plants, I want to plant them in the right pot and soil where they can flourish and grow.  To do this I need regular feedback from them about what is going well, where they would like the team to focus, what is exciting for them and what is challenging.

During our planning we took time to discuss what it is like to work for Red Rock, what is going well for us and what could we do to make our working life better.  One of the areas that was highlighted regularly was a better balance – we tend to have too much to do and work too many hours.  To do this it is not a case of better time management, it is having the courage to say “no” to the wrong opportunities and “yes” to the right ones.  I am not particularly strong in this. I find it difficult to turn any opportunity down.  I’ve positioned one lady who is an excellent judge of what we can’t and can do well to be in a position to override my decisions in this area.  I’m comforted and anxious.

If your team is in the process of making some big decisions, get in touch and see how we can help. 

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