A simple way to plan and grow a business

Making progress in any business venture is frequently challenging, time consuming and potentially a costly exercise.

Separating out in simple format where you want to get to, how you wish to get there and examining the risks and obstacles that can occur along the way, can itself be a complex task, or at worst a task where key stages or elements are ignored.

We have for some time admired a model from Sir John Whitmore’s book ‘Coaching for Performance’ that can easily be adapted and put into action when faced with analysing a business need. We have found relevance in the progression that the approach demands and also have come to recognise that the ideas can be applied to a variety of different topics right through from business to personal.

Sir John challenges us to look at situations through four lenses:








l ‘Goal’ setting in any context is best delivered when the initial focus is placed on the final outcome we wish to achieve, this outcome goal allows us to understand our final destination and thus judge when we have completed the exercise. Outcome goals must be supported by performance goals that are directly related to the outcome, but allow us to measure steps along the way; performance goals are methods of breaking down our desired outcome into manageable, achievable chunks.

Should, for example, we wish to deliver a customer service level of 99% (outcome goal), an approach by which we set stages of improvements of perhaps 1% per quarter (performance goal) would enable us to plan a route to the final overall achievement. The length of time that we would take would of course depend on what level of service we are currently achieving.

l The ‘Reality’ stage of the model challenges us to be very objective and decide exactly where we are, right now. In the case of improving customer service, hard figures, dates and inventory cover, along with other relevant measures, will need to be available and recorded. Customer feedback should of course be used here but everything needs backing up by facts. We are not looking for opinions.

A good reality check answers the question ‘where exactly are we currently?’ and thus begins to help us understand the performance we need to attain our outcome goal, by understanding the difference between where we are and where we wish to be.

l Deciding on ‘Options’ requires us to think widely and generate different routes that could take us to our end goal. This could be regarding an increase or decrease of investment or other resources, in-house or out-sourced, training and development or perhaps a new software system or fleet of vehicles. The key here is not to discount choices too soon, just generate them.

l What ‘Will’ we do? This is the time to analyse our choices against the need to attain our goals and generate a decision. That decision will need to clearly be supported by a timing and people plan and undoubtedly be underpinned with some solid financial rigour and clear accountability to execute and complete tasks.

This grow theme was developed by Sir John to provide a framework to coach improvement in performance and productivity, irrespective of whether the focus was on individuals or teams and regardless of disciplines.

There is no doubt that the thoughtful and simple headings that his framework presents us with can be applied and developed within our own situations, businesses and industry, to the benefit of our customer outcomes, profitability and teams.

Its simplicity is key your application of that simplicity, rigorously grounded in facts and the knowledge of your own commercial situation, we believe has the potential to lead to better planned outcomes the effort can be really worthwhile.

Steve Pepperell and Andrew Bailey have both held senior positions in multinational suppliers and smaller companies in the foodservice and retail sectors. They are partners in How To Solutions and act as consultants and trainers to a range of businesses. You can find out more by looking at www.howtosolutions.co.uk or by emailing them at steve@howtosolutions.co.uk or andrew@howtosolutions.co.uk or on 07802 641813

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