The most common help given to entrepreneurs appears to be assistance (outlines, software tools, guidance, peer reviews) in writing a business plan. This reminds me of the Defense industry which used to pay their contractors primarily for the delivery of Data Items (aka documents).
“You get what you measure!” “You get what you pay for!” I observed the document-driven model leading to all types of foolish behaviors among the Systems Engineers with whom I worked. I recall one case where a Lead Systems Engineer pronounced the system design to be 80% complete because 480 pages had been written on the System/Segment Design Document; the document was originally estimated to be 600 pages long. Engineers who made $75-100K a year would spend 20% of their time on document formatting and prettification rather than on thinking quality. Design reviews descended into word-smithing sessions; complex tracking systems were built to make sure a reviewer’s comment wasn’t overlooked; most of these were inconsequential changes.
Document templates encourage people to write; to complete a paragraph in answer to a set of questions. These questions are usually just decision fragments; they lack all the information associated with a full-bodied decision: decision framing, criteria, alternatives, performance estimates/judgments, summarized rationale for commitment to the “winning” alternative and consequences (derived requirements, implementation tasks and risk mitigation plans). The individual feels good about writing a nice paragraph that meets the outline requirements, but have they really done great, innovative or appropriately careful thinking?
If your business plan template/tool doesn’t highlight, frame and guide you through the top 20 decisions behind your business, then chuck it. If you ISOLATE the top 20 decisions for your business launch, THINK THEM THROUGH to uncover high-quality near-optimum answers (committed alternatives, solutions) and jump-start the implementation of these answers (launch your execution), you are almost certain to succeed.
A document-focus doesn’t prevent good thinking, but it does little to empower it. Filling in fragments of thinking without closing the loop with full decision logic may gather 30% or 40% of the information needed for a decision, but it doesn’t assemble it in way that provides insights, fosters innovation or builds commitment/momentum. It may also give you a false sense of confidence; “I’m done, the outline says so”.
You may still need to write a business plan document, but focus first on your top 20 decisions – Focus on THINKING QUALITY. Nail those, summarize them into a Decision Driven® Business Plan and you’ll be much farther down the road toward success.
We’ve got a tool that can help you do just that…
Capture your top 20 innovation and business planning decisions in the Decision Driven® Solutions Framework (DDSF). Please contact the Decision Driven® Solutions team at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to start your free trial of DDSF.