No fun in the sun Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2008

When I was a junior in college, two fraternity brothers and I embarked on a Florida spring break vacation in search of the elusive “spring break experience” we had seen in the movies.

Needless to say, we never found it. And beyond remembering that I actually went on this vacation, there wasn’t anything memorable about the trip.

That’s partially because our game plan was pretty bare bones — we booked a hotel, packed our bags, jumped into my car and drove to Florida with no idea about what we would do once we reached our destination. We had, to be blunt, failed miserably to plan ahead.

You can never say too much about the value of planning.

Without it, your business is nothing more than a rudderless ship afloat in a vast ocean. You, as its leader, aren’t much better off because you don’t know which way to point the ship.

With planning, it’s a different story. Suddenly, you’re armed with a map that will lead you on a targeted quest toward a stated goal.

This month’s cover story on John Stropki, chairman, president and CEO of venerable Cleveland manufacturer Lincoln Electric, goes straight to that point.

Stropki, who led Lincoln Electric to more than $1 billion in revenue growth over the past three years, claims the key to effective planning is balancing long-term goals with short-term objectives.

“It’s a compromise,” he says.

Part of that compromise is soliciting input from your employees and developing strong channels of internal communication that allow you to fine-tune and focus the plan.

Communication is also the mantra of this month’s Smart Leaders subject, McDonald Hopkins’ Carl Grassi. Grassi assumed the leadership role of the 250-employee law firm after the untimely death of his predecessor, Joseph LoPresti, and his first task was getting the organization past the mourning and back to business.

“Face-to-face communication is still the most effective way to have people relate,” Grassi says. “You cannot replace the benefits of it.”

When you effectively communicate within your organization, you’re well on your way to understanding how to develop and execute a plan that will take you from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow.

As for my vacation, had we developed a plan for the trip, maybe I’d have a college spring break vacation actually worth spinning stories about.

Contact Editor Dustin Klein at dsklein@sbnonline.com