Business Planning: How To Start The Year Right

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, everyone. And welcome back to the Modern Workplace Hacks podcast. My name is Tom Freer, and today it is Josh and I on our first episode for 2021. We get into to a bit about planning and how to structure our years and some general chats around that, so we hope to get some good value out of it. Welcome 2021 Modern Workplace Hacks, and we are back to the role.

How are you? Good, Tony. Yeah, good. You should see it. We should video record. We will video record. Guys, we’re going to get into it this year without new Fang dangled. Shit. I’ll tell you, it’s a lot of new this year already. I know for everyone else, but we’ve moved into a new office. We’ve got a new vibe and yeah, I’m feeling she is really new and talking to everyone else, I feel like last year was a ride off and it’s all new again this year and trying to get back into it, no one wants to admit 2020 happened. Absolutely. You got to leave that one behind. Yeah, that’s good. What is it?

February. We kind of missed January. Not really. It flew past. We got a lot done in January. January usually aren’t that busy and it was busy. It was busy, which is good. And I think that’s a sign of what’s happening this year in business. I guess it’s starting to pick up a little. I think people were held back, weren’t they? And sort of felt a bit hamstrung and they kind of have embraced the fact that they’re not really going to know what’s going to happen in the future anymore, and they’re kind of going to go of it. Yeah, definitely. And I think there were so many unknowns last year.

And what if scenarios being played out? I know we sat here and did about 400 of them, none of which panned out. Have you seen the Endgame when Doctor Strange? I went through 14 million scenarios and which one worked? Just one? Very, not quite that bad, but yeah, well, the bizarre thing is, I didn’t do a spoiler for us. Sorry, guys. The funny thing for us is, I think. Well, to be honest, from my point of view, I think in many ways it panned out way better than we thought it was going to be for our clients and also for us. And we’ve been very fortunate, obviously taking nothing away from the poor people out there that have struggled. But Brisbanes, we’ve been very lucky.

So what’s this year, Josh? What do we look? There’s so much to continue talking about. I don’t touch the surface on what we wanted to hit last year. Yeah. And I think that’s exactly what I do. Documented some notes. And really the big thing for me is more interesting people in that show this year and getting insights from them that we can share with the listeners more useful information. So just not getting too technical around things, but also just giving real value this year and pushing towards just aligning more with the knowledge bank that we do have and getting that out there and then just useful tips and tricks and making sure that we’re sharing those things.

And also I think we’ve had some feedback from a few people and they kind of like a random chat sometimes and where they go. And so there’s going to be a little bit of always a little bit of Tom and I occasionally that’s why we all tune in, isn’t it random chats? I don’t even know. We had some really interesting people on the end of last year, which was great. There were some really good chats and that’s one thing I want to do. It’s just if we can get some good people on to share some really cool insights, not just about technology, about business and life and whatever. Definitely. It all aligns with what we want to do. And that’s just helping find those little hacks and improvements to life and business.

Yeah, absolutely. And have a bit of fun on the way, because what’s important doing stuff if you’re not having fun. Yeah. I think people did lose that. And it’s actually a bloody good segue into what I’ve sort of written on my notes next, which is kind of that psychology of going into a New year. And I wanted to have a bit of a chat about that today because I know you thought about a lot over the last couple of weeks of not really having a holiday but trying to have a little break. But I think a lot of people at the start of the year sometimes I think it’s appropriate to have this chat in February and say January because I’ve spoken to a few people this year and they’ve sort of been saying, I’m not going to rush planning this year.

I’m going to sort of watch January and then in February, I’m going to go, OK, this is going to be a game plan. And I thought it was really good advice, and I think we’re seeing that across the board with people. I think taking a little bit of extra time to get into this year. I know personally, I felt burnt out at the end of the year like, dad, you were your feeling over. You were as well. I think that’s a general sentiment around lots of places. There’s just this element last year. It was quite a frustrating year and that frustration, I think, takes a lot of energy. And I know it sucked a lot of energy out of me. So getting a bit of a break. And my break was a bit later in January, which for whatever reasons, it’s just the way it panned out.

Did you find it? Did you like that? I kind of liked. Well, no, it’s tricky. No, because earlier in January, I actually got a hell of a lot done because there was no one around, so I was able to get on top of a lot of things. But the time that I did take off was pretty much when everyone started cut back, so they wanted, but it was good. It was just to get away and spend a bit of time with the family and your daughter’s taking up surfing. She’s quite the surface. She’s not done too bad. So now she’s decided that surfing her thing. I think Sunday mornings now might be trips to the coast, right. That’s a good routine.

Forward to that, which is okay, because I don’t think she’ll get out of bed before then. So she’s twelve year old going on 16, doesn’t get out of bed, but anyway, enough of that. But no, look, it was regardless, I think, for me to get out of the office and disconnect whilst work doesn’t stop, that’s the joys of business owner, whatever. For me, it was enough to recharge, refocus. I definitely come back. Yeah, it’s different for different people, some people I find that I just have to get away from the office and away from the daily routine. Environmental change. And the environmental change is enough for me to reset. Yes. Which is good. And all we did this year was say, all we could do.

There wasn’t much other places to go but just went down the coast and book a unit, go to the coast, different environment, different scenery. Yes. There’s always an email coming through or a phone call which you can delay a bit. But I was just able to that environmental disconnection, I think, as you put it, was enough for me. And I think this year that’s all I needed to get back into it. And now that’s a very distant memory. Tommy has been back one week, and I must admit, it’s been one of those weeks where you’ve had a lot of brutal way. I thought I was going to ease back into this when you sign a new client on Monday, and they want us to start on Friday, which is not usual. That’s a little bit of unusual, but as we’ve seen, it’s not doable what can be done.

Yeah, easily tested them. And we have done it a couple of times, but it’s not the ideal prep, but situation was and that’s how it is. And I think that’s the beauty, just being agile enough to do that and setting that confidence and getting people in there. But yeah, look, I don’t think that’s what you want to discuss today, but maybe it is. I was thinking more about that sort of setting up for the year and the mindset around getting ready for it. And I think you’ve touched on the importance of having a break or at least an environmental change. I think that’s a really good thing. But what are the sort of other things do you think?

And I’ve observed that sort of work to sort of get into the air and how people need to be starting to think about it, because obviously over the next couple of weeks, we’re going into some planning sessions with our clients and working with them to start to think about how technology and how their business and all of those sort of starts to become more and more aligned, because one thing I really learned from last year is that technology now is more important than ever. There’s no doubt about that. And it’s going to be uncertain for a while. I think anyone that thinks we’re going to go directly back to normal, I think probably doesn’t. We’ve already seen that.

We’ve seen States go locked down, borders, get shut down within hours notice type thing and people flying across country landing and having to go on a quarantine unexpectedly. This is going to be life. I think this is it. This is the norm we’re going to be living in for at least, I think the next twelve months. So it’s taking the lessons that we learnt from last year, and there are a hell of a lot of lessons that came out of it and really drilling on those and going, okay, well, how do we maintain that flexibility in our work delivery in our workforce? Like if people want to come to the office, they can come to the office if they don’t want to come to the office, don’t come to the office, but more so if they can’t come to the office, they need to be able to continue to work. So same sort of thing.

I think that’s an element of the planning that needs to happen from a functional perspective this year anyway. And I think that will set a lot of businesses that can achieve that and that are able to because it’s something that is still very much you have to be where you are to do the work, of course, in the professional services space. I don’t think that’s necessarily requirement because the technology will support delivery of a service or professional service anywhere. And we’ve geared out. Yes, we’ve got a new office and we’ve got space for everyone now, and it’s great. And everyone loves coming into the office because it’s there and they get that camaraderie and all the bits and pieces. But if people need to or choose to or have to, they can just work from home. That’s it. And that’s required for us. Not so much required too much change, because we’ve always been used to that.

But for businesses, other businesses that there is a significant change in mindset to enable that to continue to happen. Management style, I think. And obviously technology plays into it, so that all needs to come into that planning. But back to your original question, what are the things we need to be or how do we go about that planning? I think the mindset of planning is really about identifying what worked and what didn’t in your previous. Yes. I really look reflective. Yeah. So I think we touched on it in one of our podcasts last year was our planning methodology, the one that we follow, which is sort of that annual planning and then quarterly achievements. We do our annual planning financial year base just so we can align our numbers. But we’re heading in now.

I think next week we’ve got our quarterly planning session for quarter three. It’s a bit late to what we would traditionally do, but we’re essentially going into planned for the end of this quarter, the beginning of next quarter, which takes us into the end of the year. And what we look at at this particular time of year is really what worked in the last quarter, but what worked in the last year in particular, what was good, what do we win? How do we succeed in certain areas? Where did we lose? What didn’t we quite deliver on? And that looks at, obviously numbers financials. It looks at KPIs. It looks like it looks at our clients, our wins on clients, our losses on clients and all that sort of stuff. So we take all that into consideration, and you’ve got to be honest with it as well.

I think it’s a key element. So when you’re looking at that win loss and we did well and what we don’t look through glasses, you’ve got to fail to learn. We’ve had plenty of failures over the years and over the months and even last year. And in this quarter, we’ve failed at certain things. And that is, unfortunately, in some places, we failed in delivery of what we’ve promised, which is never great. But how do we learn from that? I think that’s key into any of that planning sessions. And that’s where you get most of the learnings from, I think, is identifying those areas where you failed or haven’t achieved what you wanted to achieve and then really asking why. And then once you understand why or to as much as possible, how do we turn that negative into a positive?

You can always do that. It’s always possible. It might not fix the situation that happened, but it will alleviate it next time. Our planning session is going to be interesting because, yes, we’ve achieved we’ve done a lot of good things over the last quarter and over the last year there’s been heaps of stuff that we can go. Yeah, we’ve done that well, but on the flip side, there’s heaps of things. Yeah, definitely. We look at it and go, we’ve dropped the ball on that. Why didn’t this get delivered as we wanted to. How come we’re seeing this result where we wouldn’t have expected that and then why on all those things? Because that is what she uses as a driver for your next quarter next year.

Yeah. And that’s what I think it’s that honest view of what you haven’t done, because I think particularly as business owners and myself. We have this thing of, well, it worked. We’re here. It must have worked. It must have been all possible. But I think you need to take that on yourself or at least have people around you in your management teams and things like who and make sure the environment is set up that way where they can call either you out or call our delivery out and call the business out and go, no, that didn’t work. What are you talking about? And I think that’s what you need is that ability to build the environment when you’re doing these planning sessions because you need to do it in a group, you can’t plan on your own. Yeah, for sure.

That’s a great piece of advice. And I think a lot of people sometimes do that. Imagine they internalize instead of sharing within a trusted peer group that they can sort of say, hey, this is how I say it. How do you say it? And I think that’s key, because if you plan in isolation, you just don’t get the objectiveness is what I feel. And look in saying that I will plan what I want to achieve and how things look down outcome and lay down what I expect. But the idea is that I feel we’ve built an environment with our team and our leadership team where okay, I’m going to set out what I personally want to achieve through the business, but I think my team can attest to this. I think there’s enough comfort and trust in the room to go.

Tom, you are freaking kidding yourself. If you think you’re going to pull that off, I do believe in a big, hairy girl, but I do think they will show themselves short sometimes. And I think you need that. I think you need that. Or, Tommy, if that’s the perception you have, I think you need reality and I’m comfortable. Take that from the table. I think that’s what you need as a leadership and as a good leader and business owner in that sense is the ability to take on that. Take that criticism on. And reality is you always have to don’t always have to do it that way. You’re the boss. You can still say no, thanks for that. I understand where you’re coming from, but we’re going to have a crack at it. Yeah, this is the direction. Okay, take that on board. No, let’s adjust it. I think listening. Taking it on board, assessing it is critical.

Yeah. Ultimately, it still comes down to me and what I’m comfortable with or what I want to achieve, and that’s the same with any leader in that sense is what I would expect from them. Do you think that the way in which people plan has changed post this whole covered thing and are people more aware of the fact that I read a little note here saying, Prepare for the worst, because that is going to be unknown, but it’s probably not the right way to sort of say it, but I think we’re comfortable with knowing that there’s going to be unknowns. Obviously, we’re traditionally, even before the cover, had sort of broken things down into quarters. Do you think more people are going to embrace that now and sort of try to run shorter sprints or whatever, whatever you want to call it business because it does give you that ability to be more agile. I think that’s the key element is you have to be agile in business.

I think you’ve always had to have been agile. I think we’ve probably had a little bit of let’s call it luxury where you can probably plan out a good twelve months and come pretty close. You know what the twelve months are going to look like. But I think you said, I think yes, definitely being much more agile in the approach is critical now more than ever, because the unknowns are actually really unknowns. Like what is it two years ago we could have planned and two years ago, I can tell you not one, even in continuity planning. And what we were looking at was never in my wildest dreams, did I think, oh, Pen, damn, it’s going to wipe out what we’re trying to do.

Well, people told that your whole office as of 05:00 p.m. In two days time can no longer be it’s interesting, but you look at it. And when we do disaster coverage, disaster planning and quantity, it’s one of the questions we all look at and go, what if you couldn’t get access to your entire office? No one really took it seriously. Okay, well, maybe that’s the thing because I think you’re right. Wrist planning is probably changed. Risk planning has definitely changed. And I think definitely that’s it. I’m guilty of that because I would look at it. And we’ve done plenty right. If it happens. This is what we can do. No one’s ever really tested the theorem, tested the theorem. We’ve always said technology can deliver that we ticked off, which you can. And so that’s great. But now it’s just haters out there realize that you need to be nimble now.

Yeah. And that’s it. And I think back to nimble and agile. And in your planning process, I think that’s the key element is if you break it down into those quarters and those sprints, then it’s actually going to be a lot easier to just as well. Obviously, as your business grows and the bigger businesses, it is hard to shift a ship that big. But in saying that it’s still achievable if you’re doing it in those areas because you’re not going to get to twelve months and go, actually, we achieve nothing. We can look at it each quarter and go, well, yeah, we are taking along or not. Where do we need to knock it down? Busted and adjust. So I think that’s probably really if you haven’t been doing that. I think that’s definitely something. And it’s something we’ve certainly reintroduced into our approach this year as well, is very much that planning approach. So we’ve always sat down and done that.

Let’s have a look at the next 12, 18, 24 months. Where do we want to be? What do we want to do and from it with our customers as well, where things heading. I think now we are certainly starting to introduce that methodology, I guess, into our planning sessions with our clients is let’s get some rigor around it. Let’s get that structure in place. Let’s be that nimble and agile component, because the technology is what’s going to give you that agility and nimbleness anyway. Absolutely. In most cases, if you don’t have the technology stack rotor, you’re not working towards that or looking to enhance that, then I think that is a limitation of again, to be a limitation in your business and any planning. Definitely. I can see that technology and business planning working in unison has never been so important because of the fact that now we’re so reliant on technology and if it’s not aligning with your business, it almost starts.

You really see a hindrance there because it affects productivity. It does. Yeah. So getting that and where we see it is, your clients are going to define their business strategy. They’re going to know where they want to go. That’s what they do. I had this conversation with a client this morning where we’d done an assessment for them and looked at what they’ve got and where they’re going. And one of the big things that came out is they’re making decisions without any understanding of the impact on the technology. So they’re making decisions for their business without considering how technology is going to actually help them. And then they’ve made that decision and now suddenly realized that one that’s not actually going to work. Or now we’ve got to change all of this to enable that decision.

So the discussion this morning was right. Well, we’ve got the blocks in place. We just got to reorder them a bit and then let’s just sit down and go. Let’s just sit down every quarter and go. Right. What are you doing? Actually, we’re going to open up an office over here and we’re going to have six more people and it’s like, well, okay, that’s great. How are you going to do that if we don’t actually apply the technology? Absolutely. Time, little silly little things like Internet guy, six weeks, six weeks. At least. Didn’t we learn that?

Well, we knew that, but we had to move anyway. We have the backups in place and plan and no and stuff like that. We had no downtime, different service, was able to cover it. And that was planning. We knew the lease was coming up. We knew the time frames. We knew it was going to be tight with getting comps in place over Christmas. Period. So we had backups and it was done, moved in, running our dramas, and that’s key. And again, that’s another client we were talking with yesterday moving offices. We have four weeks. We know the Internet is not going to make it. So the design that we’ve put in place supports a wireless

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