Planning and a Good Bourbon

2011 Planning and a Good Bourbon Most of us are deep in the weeds of the projects we are working on.  There are fewer and fewer people to support us. And the demands for success are ever greater. We know that we are in the New Normal, but we don’t know what that means. And come January 1, when the past year's slate is wiped clean , we start all over again. Is it a beginning? It certainly is a very large blank slate, creating a huge hole in my stomach as I look out at 2011, and yet as marketers, it is our job to carry a great deal of the weight to make 2011 successful.

To reduce the frightening uncertainty of that blank slate of 2011, we need to start planning for it now. We need to make sure that each day we find time to lift our heads out of the weeds and look toward the new year. And we cannot do this in isolation. Isolation only enables us to go deeper and deeper into the weeds of the projects with which we are crazily involved.

Everything we are reading in the business press reinforces the unknown of the future. Should we spend? Should we hire? What are the markets telling us? The uncertainty can be paralyzing.  I suggest that we need to get beyond the uncertainties of the future. The future has always been uncertain. We were fooled into believing that the future would be a repetition of the past, that we just need to increase objectives and the rest would fall in line. We now see the error of this thinking. And as we approach 2011, we need to get out of the negative fray and plan for our future success. And follow that plan with actions that will deliver on our game plan. We are in for the hardest job we have ever undertaken — achieving success in 2011. Are you up for the challenge?

Planning has been institutionalized in most companies. We need to break through our old patterns around planning and bring in new thinkers who will disrupt our conventions. Your organization is filled with smart people who have an opinion about their future and the future of the company. They are a valuable planning resource. Fire your old way of planning — using senior level players only — and create a new way of planning by developing cross-platform task forces filled with young new thinkers.

Task groups are very effective — they are organized around a defined objective, have a limited amount of time to accomplish the objective, deliver their results, and are then disbanded. Task groups create great competition for ideas and value inside an organization. By the end of 2010, when the final plan for 2011 is assembled and task groups can see the inclusion of some of their ideas, you have obtained a very different buy-in to the goals you have set for the company, your division, or your group.

2011 will be a successful year if you enter it now. The New Normal demands it.