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Seven keys to planning a productive and profitable year

Planning plays a vital role in high achievement. Studies show that businesses and teams that plan perform up to 60 percent better than those that don’t. However, at the start of February, experience says that many with critical business, executive or leadership roles in their companies or organizations have not completed all their annual strategic planning activities for the year.

Many businesses and individuals fail to achieve their highest hopes and aspirations each year because they have not clearly answered vital questions related to seven key areas.

On the first weekend of 2017, I hosted the two-day Planner’s Retreat for people in business designed to do just that. Shortly after, I was called to lead a full day strategic planning intensive in-house with a business team. Both sessions went extremely well and helped to confirm that planning is regarded as a difficult and perhaps time consuming process for many.

Nevertheless, planning is critical for the growth and success of any business, team, workplace and even career. The quote is clear, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

For this reason, I share the seven keys I cover in detail during my strategic planning seminars. Your goal is to confidently answer important questions surrounding each and clearly communicate your answers to those you work with.

1. Vision: According to Jack Welch, without a vision, a clear destination, people will wander aimlessly. Without a single, unifying vision, you may have division. “Di” means two. The Americans might climb one mountain, the Chinese and Russians another. Or worse yet, you might end up with a large group of people at base camp giving up on the climb. An effective vision is inspired and inspiring to all those involved in the climb. Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.

2. Mission. According to Peter Drucker, without a mission, your team will lack common purpose. The mission of the Everest climb was to promote global cooperation and environmental responsibility. Mission defines why you do what you do. It’s your motive, your motivation. Contrary to popular belief, everyone is motivated. The bigger question is, ‘motivated for what purpose?’ According to a Harris Poll of 23,000 full-time employees, only 37 percent have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve (vision) and why they are trying to achieve it (mission). Making a distinctive difference in the lives of individuals and society is the mission – the organization’s purpose and very reason for being.

3. Values. According to Anne Mulcahy, shared values set the standards for behavior that will help your team enjoy working together. How will you treat each other on your climb? Values answer that question. Values provide the foundation for building a high-trust culture. Who you are, what your values are, what you stand for. They are your anchor, your north star. You won’t find them in a book. You’ll find them in your soul.

4. Objectives. Michael Leboeuf believes objectives are the measures of your success. In order to safely and successfully climb Mount Everest, there are timetables that must be met. Objectives help your team track their progress. Objectives stimulate energy, passion, and performance. Picking the right numbers to track for your business is one of the most important decisions, you can make. People do what gets measured.

5. Issues. Jim Collins believes if your aspiration is to scale Everest, you’ll need to know where you are now. Then and only then can you effectively strategize on how to climb the mountain. To get a clear picture of your current reality, you’ll want to look at the internal and external realities. Leadership does not begin just with vision. It begins with getting people to confront the brutal facts and to act on the implications. One of the primary ways to de-motivate people is to ignore the brutal facts of reality.

6. Strategies. According to “What Really Works”, by Nitin Nohria, William Joyce and Bruce Roberson, on Everest, there are many paths you could take to reach the summit. The choices you make determine your success. Strategies generally fall into eight areas – financial resources, physical resources, human resources, innovation, marketing and sales, productivity, profit requirements and social responsibility. The study found that having clearly defined, well-communicated strategies is the most important element of business success.

7. Priorities. Stephen R. Covey believes the last element of your growth plan is priorities. Priorities include problems to solve, goals to achieve, and capacities to develop. A business leader once said that his team had worked for weeks to create a plan. The plan was almost 100 pages long. Once the plan was written, it sat on a shelf, because the plan was missing an important element, priorities. Without priorities, there will be little progress. Priorities define who does what by when. The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.

Individuals and organizations are meant to succeed, to achieve, and to make significant contributions. However, as the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

For more information about this planning process you can read the “One Hour Plan for Growth” by Joe Calhoon.

If you would love to experience the planning process for your business or your team, register to attend the next Planner’s Intensive scheduled for February 7 or schedule a personalized planning session with me. Contact me at


• Listed in The Nassau Guardian’s Top 40 under 40”, Keshelle Davis is the authority on corporate, business and personal success training in the Bahamas. She is the CEO of The Training Authority, an entrepreneur and internationally recognized speaker and author. Formerly she served as executive director of the Chamber Institute – the education arm of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) and has impacted thousands through her mission to educate, empower and inspire. Contact Keshelle at

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