With Alison Hoyt and Sam Higginson

Planning is essential to business success. When we make plans for our business, it’s crucial to be very intentional. You must go through the steps one by one and ensure you don’t skip anything. There are two methods you can use to implement better planning. 

The Navy Planning Process 

Planning is the process by which the commander visualizes the end state and then determines the most effective way to achieve it. You are the commander and get to decide what end state or goal you want to achieve. Remember these key planning concepts: 

Nesting: All your specific goals must nest under your bigger picture business goals. 

Sequencing: You must determine the proper sequencing to achieve your desired goal. 

Risk mitigation: Ensure your actions don’t create short-term opportunities while risking long-term goals. Constantly refine your plan based on challenges you encounter. 

Boldness: You’re building opportunities for an initiative. They can’t be rigid. 

Six Steps for the Navy Planning Process 

Mission Analysis: Determine your goal. What must you do to reach that goal? What are your facts and assumptions? Consider your constraints and restraints. Constraints are things you must do, and restraints are things you cannot do. Then, create your mission statement, including who, what, when, where, and why. Post it where you can see it every day. 

Development and Courses of Action: COAs are potential solutions to your problem. Come up with three that are valid, distinguishable, suitable, feasible, acceptable, and complete. 

Wargaming: Evaluate your COAs in depth. Improve your COAs by looking at their strengths, weaknesses, risks, and shortfalls. How well does each COA meet your objectives and stand up to outside factors out of your control? 

COA Comparison: Once you develop the three COAs, it’s time to compare them to each other using specific evaluation criteria. Determine which COA overcomes challenges the best. 

Implementation: Develop specific yet flexible steps and implement your plan. If you’re planning for a team, you must also transition, where you communicate the plan to your team members. 

The SWOT Analysis 

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It helps you specify a goal and identify internal and external factors that are either supportive or unfavorable to achieving your objective. Your goals are to leverage strengths, mitigate weaknesses, exploit opportunities, and dissolve threats standing in the way of achieving goals. 

1. Determine your objective: Make it attainable and controllable. 

2. Gather information: What must you know to achieve your goal? 

3. List your SWOTs: List current and future SWOTs relating to your current objectives. 

When walking through your lists, be specific, realistic, and distinguish between current status and future potential. Once you’ve made your list, establish your SWOT analysis priorities. Then, develop an action plan bolstering your strengths and opportunities and mitigating weaknesses and threats. 

Be honest with yourself and enlist uplines, sidelines, and downlines to evaluate your SWOT analyses. This requires trust and willingness to change, as well as diversity in style and thought when enlisting others to help you. As you practice planning, it’ll become easier, and you’ll become more efficient.