The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future

December is an interesting month for businesses. Companies, teams and individuals are working hard to close deals, close the gap, and reach year-end goals. At the same time, they are looking back on the year as a whole, and evaluating the good and the bad in order to plan and set goals for the upcoming year. It is a unique time of the year, as organizations are focused on the present while looking at the past in order to shape the future. Companies are going through their own individual versions of “A Christmas Carol”—hopefully with none of them acting like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Issues can pop up when companies do not take advantage of this time to plan for next year. Too often, organizations operate on the motto of “wake up, kick butt, repeat,” which can get things done, but does not always translate into a well-thought-out plan for the future. Early in a business' life-cycle, this is an acceptable way to operate, as the company is almost in a test and measure phase— the founders and employees are in some way trying to find out who they are and what they do best. In this phase, hard work, entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to pivot rule the day. There is a limit, however, to the effectiveness of this stage; eventually, structure, systems and planning need to be put in place in order to continue to grow and scale.

Planning for the future starts with Mission and Vision. Where do you want your company to go? What does the future look like and what is the ultimate goal for your organization? Why does your company do what it does? What problem is it solving for customers, community and the world? Knowing where you want to go and why you want to get there allows you to set Goals that need to be reached in order to realize your Vision, build a Plan to achieve those Goals, and determine the Actions that need to be taken to execute the plan.

Action→Plan→Goals→Vision. Simple to understand, but hard to do! Since we are in this Past/Present/Future time of year, I’ve had conversations with a number of organizations about the Strategic Planning and Goal-Setting process. If you’ve been in the “wake up, kick butt, repeat” mode and are ready to get more intentional about your process and your future, or you just want to refine and tighten the process you already have, let’s have a conversation.

Visits from the Ghosts of Business Past, Present and Future don’t have to be scary. Embrace those visits. Be intentional about them. Get your plan for next year set now, so you hit the ground running in order to execute it.

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