Setting and achieving goals is the hallmark of successful companies, and most companies use some type of planning process. However, too many plans are written in the waning days of the previous year and sit on the shelf until the following year. Many lack strategies for adjusting to changing conditions. Worse, employees may not fully understand their role in achieving goals.
Whatever your goals in 2018 — to increase revenue, penetrate new markets or improve profitability — you’re much more likely to achieve them if you have a solid plan that involves everyone in your company.
Focus on results
About a decade ago, we discovered at Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea that our planning process was inadequate. We dutifully developed an annual plan, but it often bore little resemblance to year-end performance. Associates had little understanding about how their performance affected our goals. They were focusing on activities rather than results.
In response, we created a planning system called Focus on Results, or FOR. Annually, each associate develops an individual plan detailing how their actions will contribute to achieving the company’s vision, mission and goals. Associates, teams and managers collaborate to make sure that their plans dovetail with each other and our company plan.
Fleshing out the plan
Each plan starts with the vision (goal), stated in a single sentence. Next, it includes a mission, with specific and measurable objectives that contribute to fulfilling it. These are written without wiggle room. Salespeople, for example, either reach their sales goals or they don’t. The vision and mission drive the plan, which specifies tactics that must be accomplished within a specified time to achieve the mission.
Employees outline each plan in a one-page Big Picture Outline, which briefly explains the tactics used by the individual or team to achieve the mission. The outline is fleshed out in a Tactical Plan Detail, which includes specific actions. Each tactic might need a full page to detail all required actions.
To finish each plan, associates specify:
1. Needs: What support they require to achieve the plan’s mission. Examples include training, supplies, people hours, marketing support, etc.
2. A timeline that sets due dates for specific tactics and realization of the vision and mission.
3. Investment: What are the costs of producing the results? Employees factor in both hard costs and people costs.
4. Return: What is the ROI? Return timeframe can be short term (days or months) or up to a year.
After management approval, employee and team plans are incorporated into Crimson Cup’s annual plan. Management meets with employees and teams at least quarterly to review progress toward goals. These meetings recognize and celebrate achievements, and provide an opportunity to brainstorm ways to overcome any obstacles that have arisen. Plans are then adjusted as necessary to remain on track.
Since implementing the FOR process, growth at Crimson Cup has accelerated significantly. We found that it’s a lot easier to hit milestones when everyone on the team understands their role and pulls in the same direction.
Greg Ubert is the founder and president of Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea. Since 1991, Crimson Cup has roasted sustainably sourced specialty and craft coffee in small batches. The company also teaches entrepreneurs to run a successful coffee shop through its coffee franchise alternative program, which includes a coffee shop business plan. Crimson Cup coffee is available through a community of more than 350 independent coffee shops, grocers, college and universities, restaurants and food service operations, as well as in the company’s own coffee shops in Columbus.