This article in Inc online caught my eye. Business plans are a waste of time – here’s what to do instead. http://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/business-plans-are-a-waste-of-time-heres-what-to-do-instead.html
A catchy polarizing headline, and some interesting opinions, but I must say I was parked with the initial commenters: how often is this going to work in the real world? It is not new news that in the information age technology changes are coming fast and furious. So you must be flexible and adaptable. Dropping any semblance of a business plan under the guise of “things move so quickly these days” – sounds like an unworkable plan.
Image courtesy samplesofbusinessplans.net
Hope is not a strategy, is the mantra of one of my close colleagues, and that echoed in my head as I pondered this concept of throwing business plans out the window.
- Hoping that you can hire a group of smart people.
- Hoping that those smart people come up with great ideas.
- Hoping that those same smart people can identify the right market for their ideas.
- Hoping that those smart folks can actually bring the products to market in a timely and efficient fashion without a business plan in place.
Not to say there isn’t a time and a place for taking risks, having convictions to move forward, and pursuing “great” ideas. However, most great ideas still need some supporting framework to bring them to reality.
Conversely – the comments about iterating quickly, getting product out in front of customers, trying your “next great idea” on for size, and adapting accordingly – those concepts certainly are in alignment with Agile development precepts, and the often-used inspirational mantra of “fail early and fail often.” Don’t just ponder what your potential customers will like or not like – find out first hand in an experimental environment, with a plan for controlling risks and a “containment field” if things blow up.
Image courtesy spreadshirt.com
Key takeaways from my perspective:
- Don’t throw out that business plan and strategic roadmap just yet.
- Make sure those plans include customer trial-and-error efforts, along with associated costs and risk mitigations.
- Get close to your customers, rather than hoping you know what they need or like.