Accelerated Planning Technique (APT)

Business Plan – How to make better decisions in an economic downturn

For so many reasons I hate and try to avoid using any jargon.

 However, this one is so valuable, I’ll make an exception.

 The word or term is “Fundamental Attribution Error.” It’s psychology jargon, and it is likely to be very relevant for you in these challenging economic times.

 I’m not a psychologist, but let me give you my understanding of what Fundamental Attribution Error is – as I got it from a psychologist. Particularly as it is relevant to your business decisions.  I promise to use simple language.

 Making Good Decisions
It goes without saying, that decision making is a major factor in just about any form of planning. Bad decisions can be hard or impossible to correct with diligent actions.

 So what does Fundamental Attribution Error have to do with decision making?

Everything.

 We make business decisions based on what we believe to be the truth or the real situation. In other words, we make choices based on our conscious understanding of an opportunity or problem or situation etc.

 Now here’s where it get interesting (and dangerous).

 In simple terms, our conscious awareness comes from what we see and hear – and two other sources. The two other sources are imagination and memory.

 At present, your conscious awareness is coming from information being transmitted to your brain from what your eyes are seeing on your computer screen or a printed page.

By some incredible miracle, you brain is converting a pattern of dots or pixels on a computer screen or page into meaningful information.

 Now this is a big simplification, but let’s considers what happens when you see something or hear something.

 One part of your brain recognises patterns i.e. letters, words, numbers. And I think you will agree, we can usually do this with a high degree of accuracy. If I’ve made a typo error (which I often do), you will likely recognise the pattern error.

 Then – and this is the interesting bit, another part of your brain gives meaning to the data or information being received.

 This is where your accuracy can go to hell!

 When your brain interprets or puts meaning to what you see, hear, imagine or remember, something else occurs. Your brain applies filters.

 Your brain takes into account your emotions, beliefs and past experiences etc. This step can enhance or distort the raw information being processed by your brain.

 In some situations, your brain can completely filter out certain sights, sounds and memories etc. If you want more on this, do a Google search on “Reticular Activating System”.

 Back to plans, decision making and Fundamental Attribution Error.

 Fundamental Attribution Error is when your brain gets it all wrong. It distorts information to such an extent that you make choices or decisions that in hindsight or the cool light of day are wrong.

 Here’s an example. Last week, I was talking to a client, let’s call him Joe.

 Joe told me that because of the current economic conditions, he had decided to suspend the planned release of a new product.

 As the conversation continued, I noticed that he was getting quite emotional and a little irrational. It occurred to me that his decision to cancel his product release may have been questionable.

 After a bit more discussion, I asked him get out pen and paper and work through a simple four or five step procedure. (I have listed this procedure for you below).

 Later that day I got an email from Joe.

 As it turned out, there was only one factor was likely to impact this specific product release. And all that was required to address this factor was the addition of one paragraph in the distribution agreement.

 The product lunch is now progressing.

 What does this mean for you?
If you have to make important decisions, consider this procedure:

 Make a list of what has changed that will or could impact your situation.

For each item, indicate the importance with an number between 1 (low and 10 (high)

Then, for each item indicate the likelihood of the event occurring. Same scale 0 = very unlikely, 10 = very likely.

For each item/issue, multiply (3) by (4). This will give you a weighted impact factor. If you add up these numbers, you have a weighted decision factor.

If the consequences of this decision are important, show your assessment to other people for comment. Preferably people will knowledge and experience in the issues involved

Now this procedure is still open to errors, but it should help you avoid the damage or consequences of Fundamental Attribution Error.

 

Andrew Smith

The Business Plan Guy

Business planning is a waste of time!

How often have you heard someone say: “Business planning is a waste of time?”
.
Perhaps you have said it (or thought it) yourself?
.
But what if you have got this wrong? What if you are not seeing the right picture?
.
To help you understand the benefits of smart business planning, let me go over a few brief points. You will then be better informed to decide what’s best for you and your situation.
.
Who is my target audience?
Because you are reading this article, I’m assuming that you are directly or indirectly involved with a business or organisation of some type.
.
This may be an existing business or a new business start-up. Or, it could be a non-profit organisation.
.
What is your role?
Whatever type of operation you are involved with, it’s likely that your role involves some responsibilities. These responsibilities maybe performance related or you may be responsible for managing specific operational activities.
.
If achieving results of some type is your role, then finding better ways to get things done, should be a part of your job description. 
.
How you can do it better?
The proposition I would like to put to you, is that a simple smart business plan is by far the best way to meet or exceed result expectations. It is also the best way to systemise everything that can be described as operational.
.
Let me now walk you through the preliminary steps of preparing a simple smart business plan.
.
What gets in your way?
To begin, let’s look at some of the specific problems or issues that can be obstacles to how well you can perform your role.
.
Or if you’re the business owner or the CEO, these could be the issues that govern your overall success.
.
For commercial businesses, sales and marketing issues are frequently problem areas. I hear statements from my clients like, “Sales are harder to achieve and profit margins are getting very tight.”
.

Staff problems of one sort or another are also frequently an issue.
.
Other concerns are financial issues and coping with increasing levels of regulations and administration.
.
For businesses and organisations that are coping and growing well, I get questions like “In what direction should we be heading?” or “The nature of our business has changed, how do we get organised to best manage this change?”
.
Can you identify with some of these issues? Maybe you could add some additional issues or problems?
.
Now let’s move the thinking forward.
.
What is your desired situation?
When I facilitate a business planning session, I like to get the people involved into a positive focus as soon as possible.
.
Typically I do this by asking the question: “What would this business (or organisation) be like if you could solve the pre-mentioned problems?”
.
I get responses like:
.     
I (or we) would be more in control. Things would get done faster/better and without stress and drama

We would ‘have our act together’ and be regarded as a leader in our industry
.    
We work as a professional team, always focused on a great common goal”

In a period of an hour or so, I can usually draw out 20 to 30 vision goal that relate to the specific business or organisation.

Now I’m sure you could do this first part of a preparation for a smart business plan. So if you are serious about success, follow these steps:

(a) Make a list of the problems or obstacles that are getting in your way of performing better. Aim to identify your top six to ten areas of concern. Let’s call this your “current situation”.

(b) Now switch on your imagination. Visualise what the difference would be if these problems or issues were resolved. Again, you should be able to write six to ten sentences that describe what we could call your “desired situation”.

So far so good . . .  Now let me alert you to the trap.

Here’s where it can all turn to custard . . . and here’s how you can be the leader who understands how to build a roadmap to success

To begin with, let me tell you why many business plans are not simple and not smart. Because of this, the plan is doomed right from the start.

1. They are based on a financial model and not a people model. The plan contains pages and pages of spreadsheets and financial figures that are frequently pipe dreams. Many see a plan of this type as complex mumbo-jumbo. It’s a turn-off. Not a turn-on.

2. The plan frequently does not provide a specific understanding of how these wonderful figures will be achieved. Thus there is a credibility gap.

3. The plan does not take a systems approach to performance and goal achievement. Thus everyone does their own thing, and the consequences of inconsistency become the norm.

So what’s the better solution – “KISS”
KISS usually stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. But for your business plan, let it mean “Keep It Short and Simple”.

I’m going to suggest you follow a simple and fast three step procedure. This is the basis of a method that I have called the Accelerated Planning Technique. The three steps are Dream it, Design it, Deliver it.
.

Dreamit - Design it - Deliver it with APTPLAN.comAPT 3 Step Planning Method
In part two of this article, I will walk you through these three steps.

Andrew Smith
The Business Plan Guy
www.aptplan.com

How to Create a Business Action Plan in Less than a Day

I’m in the process of developing a free tutorial on the Accelerated Planning Technique.

This will be a simplified online version of a public seminar workshop that I have conducted in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the USA: “How to Create a Business Action Plan in Less than a Day”.

APT 3 Step Planning Method

A visual flowchart of the Accelerated Planning Technique ™

.
I would welcome your opinion on the following topics I have selected to cover.  Please let me know what you think of the following suggested topics…
.
1.    Avoid Getting Stuck: Recognise the trap that 80% of people fall into. This trap kills creativity, blocks your thinking and soon causes discouragement. Once known, you can avoid this frustrating trap like the plague.
(Learning time approximately 7 minutes)
.
2.    Visual Planning: We think in pictures. Learn a visual approach for business and project planning that recognises how we think.  It’s fast and you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how simple it can be.
(You will learn this in approx 6 minutes)
.
3.    The Idea Dump: Learn a simple and effective way to get your ideas out of your head and onto paper. If you can imagine it, this tool will grab it. And it works even if your thinking is unfocused or confused.
(Learning time approximately 5 minutes)
.
4.    Clear, Organised Thinking: How to bring greater clarity to your ideas, goals and implementation plans. This is very powerful. You will learn the essence of a technique taught to me by NASA. As well as bringing clarity to your business and project thinking, it’s the pathway to solving the difficult or complex “how-to” problems you may have to deal with.
.
5.    Combine Creativity and Logic: Imagine being able to quickly match creative thinking with logical solutions. If this appeals to you, it’s now time to introduce you to the tool that will enable you to combine creativity and imagination with practical “how-to” thinking. This is the APT Dream it, Design it, Deliver it method.
(Learning time approximately 7 minutes)
.
6.    Your Vision of Success: Learn a simple way to determine and communicate your vision of success. See how this can be done clearly and concisely on one sheet of paper.
.
7.    Solve the “How-To” Problems with Simplicity: See how the APT Solution Blueprint helps you avoid getting bogged down in excessive detail when it comes to working out the “how-to’s”.
.
8.    Action Step Formula: To get results, you need to be focused on getting things done. If you rely on the efforts of others, you need accountability. To conclude this learning material, you will learn the simple APT Action Step Formula, a concise tool that manages purpose, method and personal accountability.
.
Again, any feedback on these suggested topics would be welcome.

Andrew Smith – The Business Plan Guy – Andrew”AT”apt.co.nz