What's Your Plan?
April 16, 2013
For the first 12 years of the new millennium, we've been mesmerized by technological determinism. We became practitioners of a tenuous bargain: We've learned to covet systems and technology while subordinating the role of people. This worked to an extent if you were a cut-and-paste company. There were massive savings up front. But those days of heady consolidation mathematics have come and gone. As we plow through 2013, we're faced with diminishing TSL and the specter of migratory product as threats to our place on the media stage. The days of leaner-is-better have given way to a new reality: Better is better, content is king.
There is a working principle that says, "All things that must come to an end, do." When all the cutting has been achieved, when the dead wood has been trimmed away, when a company realizes ours' is first and foremost a performance business, there is only one sure formula for success in the current moment: planning, into design, into commitment, into action. Listeners don't respond to mechanics, they respond to people.
For those who saw significant positive turn-around in 2012, it's worth paying tribute to a long held belief in our firm's offices, borrowed from the tattered pages of world history: after a glorious victory in a grand war, the hardest battle to fight is the first little skirmish of the next campaign. We regularly repeat this maxim.
This is the time to play-high, improvise, and dare. Yet beyond flipping forward a monthly operating statement, so seemingly few selfishly plan for it. Consider that your business plan is likely to succeed if:
- It puts a clear concept above raking in money.
- If the people who must execute the plan share the design and are committed to it
- If the mission allows for fast tactical adjustment with changes in competition
- If the plan sets out what it will take to be the very best, not just "competitive"
In any business (sports, technology, transportation or the media), dynasties are never accidental or coincidental. Instead, they feed on pride and strength of leadership. A great leader is either on top of events, or if he or she hesitates, events will soon be on top of them. Every dynastic identity started with a first-day. W. J. Slim, a little known British General who fought an outback campaign in Burma in the late stages of WWII, and who stood tall among an otherwise mediocre cadre of British officers, proffered this advice: "When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take, always choose the bolder."
Plan specifically, plan selfishly, then create a core covenant within your organization before the months roll away. Only precision teamwork succeeds, and only you can collect and keep the team. It's already the second quarter, 2013 ... everybody in the pool.