Strategic Planning Allows Businesses to Hit the Target

Article excerpt

Although success may happen by chance rather than design, you're better off taking your chances with design. The appearance of success without long-term planning may be deceptive.

A story I heard from Russ Best, a TAB facilitator in Kansas City, Mo., illustrates the difference between success born of planning and the mere appearance of success that results from chance. As you will see, the reasons for success are not always what they seem.

In Central City, Colo., back in the early 1850s, a gunslinger known to have a quick draw walked into town, and right away he noticed targets painted everywhere. They were painted on the front of the saloon, on the front of the hotel, even on the front of the church. In every target -- and there were hundreds of them -- was a single bullet hole, smack dab in the center. The gunslinger entered the oldest bar in Central City and started talking to the bartender. "You know, I'm a gunslinger and I've never entered a town that put fear in my bones the way this town has." "Why is that?" asked the bartender. "Well," the gunslinger replied, "I see all these targets with one bullet hole smack in the center of every one." The bartender commenced to laugh, then stated, "I shot those bullets." The startled gunslinger looked at the bartender with newfound respect. "How in the world did you do that?" The bartender pulled at his britches a little and said, "It's really very easy. I just shoot all day. When I get a wild hair, I go outside and shoot. Then, just to break the monotony, I find the bullet holes and draw a target around them." This is exactly the way many companies without long-term business plans appear to be successful. They say, "Oh, this is great," and jump on it. Unfortunately, as business people, you are not able to go out and draw a target around that bullet hole. To hit the target more often, you need to follow a strategic business plan. If you are like most presidents, CEOs, owners or partners of privately owned businesses, your company works toward the short- term goals you've established. The Strategic Leadership Business process changes a short-term focus to a long-term plan drawn up and communicated so that every key player in your company can follow it. …