How a simple change in vocabulary can dramatically improve your business plan
A simple change in the vocabulary of thinking from ‘WE CAN’T BECAUSE to ‘POSSIBLE IF’ can dramatically improve your team’s ability to overcome hurdles.
“IMPOSSIBLE itself says I’m Possible”. At first glance, it is simply one of those motivational quotes that often gets forwarded. But once you let this idea grow on you for a while and with some simple tweaking, it can be turned into a powerful mental exercise to improve business plans dramatically.
When working with small and mediums businesses the most often heard cribs are:
‘We don’t have the budgets’
‘We don’t’ have the distribution.’
‘We don’t have the R&D.’
‘Our trade won’t believe us.’
‘Our cost structure won’t permit us.’
‘We don’t have the digital firepower.’
‘We don’t have the talent.’
…the list is endless. I also used to talk like this at the start of my career while working for an independent marketing services organization pitted against highly resource-rich MNCs with global affiliations and the bottomless budgets. But there was a CEO who taught all of us to think differently in the face of the worst kind of constraints. “Those big guys might have the budgets and resources, but they can’t think like us,” was his favourite quip.
“Those big guys might have the budgets and resources, but they can’t think like us,”
One of the most common self-crippling tendencies is to start the planning exercise with the self-limiting belief — ‘we can’t because’. This thinking shuts our mind to the possibilities lying around us waiting to be explored. Shun the “we can’t” mindset and with the power of the “Possible if…”. This pushes us forward to think up whole new solutions, overcoming the seemingly impossible hurdles on the way. The very introduction of “Possible If” in conversations with business owners in most cases will ignite their minds, causing them to come up with solutions that they never thought of.
Shun the “we can’t” mindset and with the power of the “Possible if…”. This pushes us forward to think up whole new solutions
Let’s look at how this simple tweak or editing of our mind-script could have been applied to the earlier case of DMart v. Big Bazaar (How (not) to develop annual business plans and do budgeting)-
Another observation is that there are many trigger points which prompt people to think differently. These triggers can be used as a stimulus to jumpstart thinking. Out of the many, the following variants of “Possible If” engine have proved useful in many instances:
I have also observed that when doing this kind of exercise, it is best to warm up people before they come into the discussion with examples outside their category, international or national and then ask them to think of how they would apply this example to their specific business situation.
Of the many group planning exercises, this is probably the simplest. Moreover, the beauty of it is that the team owns the solution since they are the ones who have come up with the answers and not the business owner or consultant. It is therefore easy to get the entire organization to buy into the idea, rally behind it, and advocate for it. After all, it is their idea and not the top managements or that of a consultant. People tend to assign a high monetary value to something they have created with some quantum of effort — often called the “Ikea effect” (because you put some effort into assembling a piece of Ikea furniture, and, therefore, you love it all the more).
The beauty of it is that the team owns the solution since they are the ones who have come up with the answers and not the business owner or consultant
So, to challenge your thinking and to make your yearly business plan spiky, change the vocabulary of thinking. Happy Planning & Happy slinging Goliaths in the market.
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