Business Growth Planning Depends on Managers’ and Workers’ Planning Styles

Business growth planning, according to the book, Becoming a Resonant Leader by McKee, Boyatzis and Johnston, should take into account the “planning styles” of company leaders and of day-to-day employees, as all stakeholders contribute to growth analysis. These authors begin by noting, “People approach the future in different ways,” and most employ, predominantly, one of three approaches:


Owners and top-level managers usually engage in goal-oriented growth planning, during which specific ends and specific means are clearly named and striven for in a “structured and linear fashion.” Many goal-oriented business planners, however, struggle continuously and feel dissatisfied within a let’s-find-and-meet another short-term goal mentality.  The trick in planning at the top is for owners/managers to reflect on and enunciate their dreams and values–and their overall “mission” for the company–in relation to the latest goal-oriented expansion.  The sense of energy and optimism generated by this “internal process” can contagiously and positively affect employees at other growth planning levels.


This method of attacking business growth planning is often employed by middle-managers, who “know the general path they wish to pursue,” but, understanding the shifting forces within the U.S.–and the global–economies, don’t allow themselves to become locked into too many “specifics.” They tend to “see the big picture” in enough detail to allow them–and to urge them–to respond quickly and flexibly to market forces. For example, a direction-oriented planning manager is “highly attuned to his environment.”  He notices before anyone that his inventory of certain automotive parts has tripled. Right away, he consults industry analysts and “cuts back” on manufacturing these soon-to-be-outdated parts. At the same time, this manager directs his workers to begin retooling for up-and-coming parts. As he makes these necessary adjustments, the direction-oriented planner “stays true to (the company’s) overarching set of values and principles.”


Those employees who “don’t think too much about (their company’s) distant future” tend to be–in the case of manufacturing–shop-level workers. Their business planning may be limited to the “series of tasks or activities” in front of them in the moment, which means they notify a manager if a crucial piece of machinery is on its “last legs.”

However, the perspective of these front-of-the-line employees within businesses that are “employee-owned” tends to be more direction-oriented.  Therefore, they may–and should be–invited to attend weekly, or monthly, materials and product-forecasting meetings along with managers. Owner-worker ideas on what products/processes to decrease–and which to re-design, delay or drop–often prove invaluable to the company’s bottom line.

Business growth planning, therefore, depends mightily on the type of goal-oriented forecasting that admits it needs–and actively includes–the wisdom of those at direction-oriented and action-oriented positions.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

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