For the past few weeks I have been planning our summer vacation. I somehow, against her better judgment, convinced my wife to join me (with our two dogs) for a month-long RV trip throughout the western U.S. The planning process shed some new light on how to approach business planning with the same vigor and excitement.Think about it, the journey of any work endeavor can be analogous to vacationing. In the early stages of planning a trip, there is contagious excitement. The opportunities are endless, you could go anywhere, you begin talking to friends and colleagues, researching potential destinations, running ideas by your travel partners. Soon, you set a destination and then you have to find the best way to get there and what do to when you arrive.
Might you have some setbacks? Yes. If you were dreaming about a trip to Italy this summer, it could be hard to really get excited about facing the bumper-to-bumper traffic through Yellowstone. But as the details come into focus, anticipation begins to grow for the new adventure.
As you embark on the trip your eyes are wide open. You are a traveler, ready to see all the sites. This is where we often miss the mark in business. You have to be ready to stop at that roadside attractions and explore the possibilities. You may only find a ceramic ashtray made in the shape of Oregon, but you may also find that perfect memento that could make the vacation even more worthwhile. In business, you may find the best new idea, the innovation that your business needs when you slow down and experience life.
Are we planning for some bumps in the road, a few rainy days, some uncertainty? Yes we absolutely know we will find ourselves on a detour. Just like any major project at work, there will be days that don’t go as planned. We’ll expect them, and so should you! In fact, be ready to enjoy them. A little rain? I plan to read a good book. If we could tackle work obstacles with this same point of view, everyone would be happier at the office.
We always take a lot of pictures on vacation, and this year I intend to be blogging along the way and keeping all of my readers up to date. Do you do this at work? Do you document the project? We take pictures of the good and the bad along the way. After the trip, we love to talk about all the great things we want to do again and make sure we correct the things that didn’t work. I just hope this RV trip has more of the former.
After we debrief the trip, it all starts over again. Where will we go next year? Just like at work, after one project is done, it’s onto the next. We often get ideas from friends about trips to take. We listen to all the great stories of trips other people went on, get suggestions and constantly dream. It should always be the same at work: never stop listening. You have to listen to your customers, you industry, your peers, your competitors and your employees.
Become a traveler and your next project will be as much fun as your best vacation!