Business plans are meant to be adaptable plans for thriving, not just surviving, as a company. Yet, according to famed Harvard professor John Kotter, 70 percent of business initiatives meant to bring organizational change will fail. That is an impressive number because it means efforts to adapt to a changing marketplace are failing. There is a disconnect between the business plan founded on a mission and the real world.
The problem is often one of losing sight of the company mission and failing to plan. The mission statement represents the starting point for the direction of the business plan and captures the essence of business purpose. It has a philosophy underlying it that does not change. Philosophies are encompassing, so the mission statement is a reflection of the nature of products or services sold, potential for growth, pricing strategy, customer service, role in the community, competition and much more.
On a Mission to Fulfill a Mission
The business plan needs to be developed so that each and every section drives the business towards fulfillment of the mission. A change initiative is merely a strategy for keeping the business on track to fulfill the mission. Leading change requires first turning to the mission statement and the business plan. A business that needs to change must be able to communicate a sense of urgency throughout the organization because staying true to the mission statement is necessary to thrive. If a change initiative is needed, it means the business has gotten off course from its mission and its vision.
The business plan goals and strategies may need to be revised, but that should always be a step in the change process. In fact, business plans can serve as the guide for change as each section, from the Executive Summary to the Financial Statements, are reviewed in light of the need for change. Leadership will identify specific strategies for incorporating change and then communicate the revisions on an organization-wide basis. The change process must be empowering and encompassing, meaning employees at all levels should be embraced as change agents.
Business plans begin with a mission statement and then serve as a living breathing document. Leading organizational change is not always easy, but it can be impossible unless there is buy-in to the mission and the business plan. The strategies used to get that buy-in can vary, but staying on message cannot.
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