Should I involve the team in the planning process?

A question I often get asked when a client wishes to develop their business plan.

It’s a great question and one where there is a generic answer and perhaps an answer specific to each client.

Let me tell you a short story…

A few years back I attended a presentation by the Marketing Director of Green & Blacks – one of my favourite chocolate brands.

They had launched a range of Easter eggs and as part of their premium offering, didn’t want to enclose the eggs in the usual plastic blister moulding.  The problem was that the chocolate eggs kept breaking, causing them to look unsightly and sales weren’t as high as expected.

Each year they redesigned the packaging to try to solve the problem, with very little success.  This resulted in more damaged eggs and lower sales.

Fast forward a few months and two executives are chatting about their frustration and inability to find a solution in the middle of the office one day.  They hear a murmur in the corner but ignore it and carry on.  The murmur gets louder but still can’t be heard.

“Make the chocolate thicker!” came the cry from a lady in the Accounting team.  “What?” they asked.  “Make the chocolate thicker and it will reduce the chance of the chocolate breaking!”

At first they discounted the idea. What would somebody from the Accounting team actually know about a solution?  However with no other credible options to try, they went away and tested the idea.

Guess what? It worked.  Genius!  They then had record sales the following year…

The moral of the story?  There are often little gems of ideas from people within a business that you wouldn’t usually think to tap into.  If you share the business’s vision, the team will often be delighted to be involved in developing the plans and executing them.

The trick is for the plan to be theirs that you are helping them with, not yours that they are helping you with.  Read that again if you need to.

So back to the question.  Should I involve the team in the planning process?

I would always say YES for the reasons outlined above.  You do have to consider how and when you get them involved though, due to some of the sensitive discussions that may take place.

The businesses that get the best results from their planning with me, are those that fully involve the team so they are engaged, aligned, focussed and bought in.

It’s obvious really, but unfortunately too many feel that planning is for the Owners/ Directors and that the team should be told what the plan is and to ‘get on with it’.

Not on my watch.  Once you involve the team, you’ll never look back.