Beyond the blueprint: How adaptive planning drives scaleup success
March 27, 2024

Beyond the blueprint: How adaptive planning drives scaleup success

Who doesn't like to have a plan? 

Well, as it happens. Quite a lot of us, actually.

For some of us, planning is essential. We can't function effectively without having a plan. Whether it is a structured 'to-do' plan for our day, a plan for what we are doing going to the shops, or a broader life plan, we want the comfort of 'the plan.' For others, this feels totally alien. The plan restricts. It constraints. It prevents us from feeling spontaneous and able to experience different things or 'happen across' something that we would never have otherwise found. 

In business psychology, planning relates to the conscientiousness personality domain of the 'Big Five' trait model. This describes two different extremes in individual preference: 

  • High conscientiousness: Being disciplined, careful, attentive to detail, and highly organised;
  • Low conscientiousness: Impulsive, big-picture, spontaneous, disorganised.

There is bags of research showing the relationship between high levels of conscientiousness (ie the disciplined, careful, planned side) and performance. Meaning, to perform better, we need to plan.

But what if the 'either/or' nature of this is not best for your situation? And what if your more impulsive, spontaneous nature is what you used to get your business off the ground in the first place?

The good news is that you need both. It is good to plan, think through what that might need to look like and set a clear focus for you and the team as you scale your business. BUT, sticking rigidly to a plan and not being able to iterate, deviate, or downright pivot is a surefire way to lose relevancy. 

Fortunately, this is not just our view. Research in 2010 found that planning can work well for individual job performance, particularly where we seek to execute tasks effectively. But, for group activities that require creativity and innovation, being too planned can restrict outcomes.

Scaling your business is a group activity that requires creativity, innovation, AND solid execution.

Therefore, it follows that having a plan as a starter helps, but engaging your team in iterating and adapting that plan is a must.

There is a growing trend toward having blueprints: a clear outline of the path to success. But in the dynamic environment of our modern world, reliance on blueprints can be damaging.

That's why we advocate an adaptive approach to planning. Start with taking stock of where you are at in your scaleup journey. How would you define where you are currently? Are you presently a lifestyle business? Are you in the boutique stage? Or is it more of a performance business? Where are you trying to get to in your next stage of growth? Check out this article from Daniel Priestley and the Dent Global team to better understand where you are on your entrepreneurial journey.

Once you recognise where you are, you can define your Scaleup Acceleration Plan.

This is your starter for ten, but it's just a starting point. It can help you identify areas of strength and things you can work on next to help you move to the next level. 

Complete the questionnaire, review the feedback and recommendations, and then start working that through with your team. Engage them in discussions about your growth strategy, culture, operating rhythm, finances, and propositions.

This takes you and the team beyond the blueprint. The plan is the starting point. How you engage, iterate and develop the strategy to execute is what drives your scaleup success. 

Written by Barry McNeill | Founder and Managing Director of Work Extraordinary

Barry has over 25 years supporting leaders and teams to be more effective in driving business outcomes, such as growth, customer service and impact. He and his team have helped numerous founders, founding teams and growing organisations to develop new ways of working to achieve scaleup growth, enhanced culture, improved operational effectiveness and customer impact. You can connect with Barry through his social channels at the top of this page.

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