Stand back, Plan ahead, Take the Big decisions

Silverstone Technology Cluster

15th March 2021

Our field guide to where, when and how to plan long-term, even during the Covid storm.

You make hundreds of decisions each day, but what about the bigger, longer-term ones. Covid made everyone’s time horizon shorter, but if you’ve had trouble focusing long-term,  don’t put off the bigger decisions any longer.

This is our field guide to some of the best advice on taking the bigger decisions. Read on to clear your mind, get away from the desk or factory floor, and take a fresh look at things. 

Got 2 minutes? 3 things you can do right now

Got 20 minutes? Take a deeper dive into the best thinking out there

3 things you can do right now to make better long-term decisions

1.      Delegate

One of the most detrimental things to your ability to plan beyond the next month, or even week, is getting caught in the detail. You know your busines inside out and what makes it tick. But sometimes focusing on the daily detail becomes an easy habit that’s hard to kick. Serving clients or customers, sorting out problems, and managing staff all need doing. But if that’s all you do every day it leaves little breathing space to plan the bigger decisions.

Great delegation is one of the hardest things to do. It requires total trust in others which is what makes it so hard. But, if you can, try delegating more of the day-to-day to trusted team members. Not only will this help you to run the business, it will also develop their skills in their roles, leading to overall more productive operations in the long run.

2.      Make time for the long-term

Once you delegate, chances are you’ll have a chunk of time (however small!) ready and waiting to be filled. Avoid the temptation to spend that time on another area of the day-to-day and book in some quality time once a week to think long-term.

When was the last time you looked at your business plan? When was the last time you even wrote one? Dig out those thoughts and ask yourself some honest questions about how you’re doing against them. Goal-setting really helps here as well, so get back into the habit if you’ve lapsed.

3.      Status check the status quo

As well planning where you want to be, it’s important to take stock of where you are.

Use the time you’ve (hopefully) freed up to talk with your employees, get some honest feedback and review your operations. Is everything fit for purpose? Are things running smoothly when you scratch under the surface? What data can you analyse that might suggest where things aren’t up to scratch?

This is where an outside perspective really helps too. If there’s someone you trust and respect to give you an honest opinion looking at your business, then do it. If there isn’t, you could always consider signing up for a business mentor who can help fill this role.

 

Best of the Web: Good reads on great decision-making

How to inform your decisions UMass Dartmouth

There’s no shortage of literature on decision-making processes for businesses, but some of the best comes from Schools of Management. The University of Massachusetts has a step-by-step framework for informing decisions, which can be applied to any business, from start-up to large enterprise.

Elsewhere, Small Biz Club’s blog on effective decision making contains useful thoughts on how to approach decision making. For a more granular guide, check out SmartSheet’s summary of approaches.

How to think big and think different Harvard Business Review 

Blue-sky thinking is a horribly overused phrase. A far better explanation would be thinking creatively. It’s a longer read, but Harvard Business Review’s take on how to think creatively about your business strategy is essential reading. It gives you four new ways to think about your current challenges.

A visit to McKinsey’s strategic thinking guide is also well worth your time. This one is all about translating big picture ideas into an actionable plan, and how to get the ball rolling.

Creating a growth strategy Harvard Business Review (again)

If you struggle with narrowing your focus, check out HBR’s established ‘Five Stages of Business Growth’. It may have been written before the era of mass tech adoption and modern entrepreneurship, but this guide still stands the test of time.   

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a real step-change in your business, Tuts+ has compiled a handy guide on developing a growth strategy.

How to properly analyse your operations Info Entrepreneurs

If you want to conduct a comprehensive review of business progress, shortcomings, financials and growth opportunities then check out InfoEntrepreneurs. They have no shortage of formats and tools for you to get under the skin of how your busines is performing, and how to update your strategy.

For a more straightforward approach, the Business Plan also has a useful guide to using the SWOT framework to analyse operations and inform your decisions.

And how to make space to just do some thinking Huffington Post

The place you work – and where you probably spend 12 hours a day – is the last place to go if you want to think about the big decisions or long-term. Huffington Post has a great list of suggestions for different places to try out. This article in Fast Company also brings this problem to life and provides a good list of alternatives.

Part of creating a space for great thinking is about understanding how your brain gets in the creative mood. This article in Medical News Today explains the best mental state to be in for your brain to get creative – and to stop getting distracted. And if you’re still in need of inspiration, check out this from the Workette

 

 

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