By Devesh Dwivedi, a strategic advisor for visionary CEOs and entrepreneurs. Find more growth and value-building strategies at HigherValuation.com.
In the entrepreneurial mind of ambitious dreams and brilliant ideas, the journey from concept to execution often feels like navigating a labyrinth without a map. I find this to be a very common challenge that CEOs face when seeking to translate their ideas and projects into tangible results.
Fortunately, there’s a simple yet effective framework that can bridge this gap: the PLAN framework. I developed this framework over years of working with hundreds of CEOs and visionary entrepreneurs and successfully installed it as a way of working. This simple yet powerful strategy focuses on Purpose, Levers, Accountability and Numbers, providing a clear pathway for intentional action and results. Let’s take a closer look at the four parts of the PLAN.
P For Purpose
At the heart of every successful business strategy is a clear, well-articulated purpose. It’s the driving force that gives meaning to your activities, fuels motivation and serves as a beacon when the seas of business get stormy. More than just the “what” of your tasks, the purpose illuminates the “why.” It provides your team with a sense of direction and a clear understanding of how their contributions align with the larger organizational goals.
To effectively utilize the power of purpose, CEOs must ensure that every plan, strategy or task is tied to a clear and compelling objective. This objective needs to resonate not just with the company’s broader vision but also with the individual passions and motivations of team members. When everyone understands the purpose behind their work, they become more engaged, dedicated and productive.
If you need to, take it one step further by discussing and articulating the purpose at a task level. For example, one CEO turned it into a question he would ask at the beginning of every meeting and interaction—”And why is this important?” or “And why are we doing this?” Such reflective moments allowed the team to focus on “what” based on “why” and resulted in better buy-in and outcomes.
L For Levers
In the complex machine of business, levers are those elements that, when maneuvered smartly, can yield disproportionate results. They range from your unfair advantages to the key factors that set your business apart and give you an edge over competitors to almost anything that provides higher returns or makes execution simpler, faster, less risky, etc.
Identifying and pulling the right levers can result in exponential growth and success. Whether it’s a unique product feature, an unmatched level of service, a proprietary technology or a powerful network, these levers can significantly enhance your business outcomes.
CEOs must learn to recognize their business’s unique levers and strategically incorporate them into their plans. Leveraging these unique strengths can not only accelerate progress but also add value that distinguishes your business in a crowded marketplace. So any time you and your team came up with a project or task, consider spending a few extra minutes on clearly identifying what lever can be pulled to turn that project into results faster, easier and more simply.
A For Accountability
Projects and plans often flounder, not due to a lack of ideas or resources but due to a deficit in accountability. The blame game is a dangerous pitfall for any organization. In contrast, a culture of accountability fosters a sense of ownership, empowering each team member to take responsibility for their roles and outcomes. I have worked with hundreds of organizations, and the most dangerous thing I see is some version of the story of four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody:
“There was an important task to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.”
The moral of the story is that a lack of accountability leaves even the simplest tasks undone.
Make sure that’s not happening to your teams and tasks. How? Start with a simple RASCI assignment on your plans and projects. RASCI is short for Responsible, Accountable, Supportive, Consulted and Informed. CEOs can cultivate accountability by clearly defining roles and expectations, providing the necessary resources and then holding each team member answerable for their contribution. This fosters a sense of personal investment in the company’s success and helps ensure that plans are executed with diligence and dedication.
N For Numbers
Finally, the best plans mean little and lose momentum over time without a way to measure their effectiveness. This is where numbers come in. Establishing strategic key performance indicators (KPIs)—both leading and lagging—allows you and your team to track progress toward goals, identify potential roadblocks and make data-driven decisions.
Numbers provide hard evidence of how well your plan is proceeding. They offer a clear, unbiased view of what’s working and what’s not. By tracking the right metrics, CEOs can proactively manage their business, fine-tuning strategies and correcting course as needed.
The PLAN framework—Purpose, Levers, Accountability and Numbers—is a simple yet powerful tool for CEOs and business owners to transform ideas into successful realities. In my experience, this framework can foster intentionality and action orientation, helping businesses avoid the laundry-list syndrome that often plagues planning processes. When these four components come together, they create a strategic plan that is not only aspirational but also grounded in practical execution, propelling your business toward success.
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