Curt Fowler: On the ROI of Planning, Executing

Curt Fowler

Monday, October 14th, 2019

“What is the return on the effort to create a vision for your life and business? A better question might be what is the cost of not having a vision?”

“Without vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29

Planning is a pain. It takes time that few of us have and forces us to look at weaknesses we’d rather ignore. No wonder so many of us fail to plan for our businesses and our lives.

Stephen Covey stated it perfectly. We must “begin with the end in mind.” If we don’t envision an inspiring future worth working toward, we are just getting by. Getting by doesn’t inspire us to give our best and it won’t inspire others to follow us.

How do we overcome the hurdles (time, money, lethargy, etc.) to force ourselves to make time to reflect, plan and create an inspiring vision?

We could discuss the difference between a life well-lived, on purpose, versus a life driven by societal norms. But I’m a business writer and if I’m going to recommend anything to a business owner it better have a great return on investment. 

While that ROI can come in many forms (societal, individual, cash), if it doesn’t produce enough dollars to justify the cost, why should your shareholders allow you to do it?

So, here’s goes some of my favorite stats on the ROI of planning and executing:

Outthink the Competition: A book by Kaihan Krippendorff that encourages leaders to evaluate their organizations as Behind, Competitive or Differentiated (compared to their competition) on the 8 P’s of strategy. Those P's are positioning, product, price, physical experience, placement, promotion, process and people. 

Krippendorff’s research found that organizations that increased their score over the competition were able to achieve 40 percent faster growth and/or profitability.

Built to Last: Study and book by Jim Collins. Found that “visionary” companies outperformed their competition by 15 times. One dollar invested in visionary companies was worth $9,300 60 years later vs. $415 if you invested in the general stock market. These companies differentiated themselves with vision and a plan and culture to achieve the vision.

Firms of Endearment: Book by Raj Sisodia that marked the beginning of the Conscious Capitalism movement. Found that firms that were “loved” by their customers and employees outperformed the general market by 8 times. These organizations had the clarity required to build great cultures. Their cultures powered their financial performance.

Great Places to Work: You’ve probably seen the Top 100 Places to Work on the cover of Fortune Magazine before. These companies are not only great places to work, they are great places to invest. The companies making it to this list have outperformed the market by 3 times.

Performance Excellence Programs: A study of 600 previous award winners of European and American excellence programs found winners doubled the operating income performance of comparison firms. I was an examiner for the Baldrige Performance Excellence program in Florida. I found it amazing to see what organizations could accomplish when aligned behind a common goal. Cities, counties, schools, hospitals, manufacturing and service organizations all outperforming their competition.

Balanced Scorecard Initiative: Found that 70 percent of organizations with a formal execution process outperform their peers.

The Gallup Organization: Gallup is the leader in research on employee engagement. Their research has found that only 30 percent of employees are engaged at their work and that is costing firms 75 percent of their profit growth.

I’ve got more, but I’m already way past my editor’s suggested word count ...

I’m sure you can find studies that argue against the planning and execution process. But chasing an inspiring future in business and life just seems right to me. I’m glad these studies agree.