Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Believer, Skeptic or Psychoplanner, Part 1

Part I – The Season for Planning
Before we begin, I’m not selling fancy leather bound planners, trendy books on the topic or heirloom quality prayer rugs.  I’m not here to convert you.  I could stand on my head and do double

somersaults while I ranted on and on about the virtues of planning.  But all would be for naught.  Either you believe in planning or you don’t.  It’s just that simple.

Instead this piece is designed for the believers and latter day converts-- for those who have consciously decided, “If we’re going to plan, we might as well get our money’s worth.”   With a little luck some people will recognize themselves as psychoplanners.  These are the folks with deep-seated allusions of planning.  Instead of believing they’re Napoleon, they conjure themselves as planners.  Allow me to illustrate with a story from my early career.

We’ll go back to the world of polyester and leisure suits: the year 1981, the place the orange Naugahyde coiffured office of a distributor client.  As year-end approached the conversation turned to planning.  Here in dead earnest, my distributor shared his plan for 1982: “Work hard, get as many sales as possible and have a nice vacation sometime during the summer.”  You know deep down in his heart of hearts, he believed he had a real plan.   Most likely (and I avoided the subject) at the end of that year, he devised another similarly amazing plan.  But we had a bit of a problem.  His company was missing out on some of the rapid technology and cultural shifts of those times.  Ultimately, I had to come up with a plan for finding a new channel partner.

Here’s the issue with his “plan."  How do you measure, define and refine “work hard and get as many sales as possible” in real terms?  At least his plan for a nice vacation in the summer was measurable and had a bit of a time frame. 

This little story from my checkered past drives home an important point. Many people believe in planning.  But when those plans are exposed to the unflattering light of scrutiny, they appear as phony as Naugahyde trying to pass for leather.  They’re psychoplanners.

Armed with these remembrances, let’s head out on a quest for planning best practices for the Industrial Distributor.  After observing the planning process at hundreds of distributors, I have come to recognize some inarguable trends; the stuff that works and the pitfalls to making planning a profitable venture.  Join us next week as we explore some of the must-haves for planning.

If you'd like to get a jump start, including forms, check us out on Amazon.

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