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Refining the 2017 business plan

'Coach Kriengsak, I will have a meeting with my top leadership team next week on our 2017 business plan," Kitti tells me. "The objective will be to get mutual agreement on key assumptions that we will use for planning. I want to use our time today to prepare myself."

"Khun Kitti, what does success look like to you from our coaching session today?"

"I want to have some fresh key assumptions for the business plan."

"All right. Usually what does your business plan consist of?"

"It consists of the business landscape in the next year, our company's positioning, goals, strategies and action plan."

"How do you view the business landscape next year?"

"The political situation is more stable and we're seeing modest economic growth. In terms of social trends, we have an ageing population and more millennials moving up in the workforce. In terms of technological change, social media and mobile applications are having a greater impact on all aspects of our lives."

"What else?"

"The major growth factors for the county will be government spending, local consumption and tourism.

"And what else?"

"I can't think of anything else."

"Khun Kitti, may I push you a little bit more?"

He nods.

I draw his attention to the book Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way by Bruce Rosenstein. The author quotes a great question posed by the famous management theorist: "What has already happened that will create the future?"

"Khun Kitti, I want you to answer this question."

He repeats the question to himself: "What has already happened that will create the future for my business?" Then he's quiet for a moment. "Coach, I can think of three things: competitors are everywhere, customers are more demanding, and ambiguity is increasing."

"Could you elaborate?"

"I'm in the banking business. In the past, we competed with only 20 banks at most. Now, we compete with financial companies, insurance companies, retailers who offer financial services; even some of our customers also compete with us. The other thing is the upcoming fintech trend. The competition is fierce and it's becoming borderless -- because of the internet we can expect competition from anywhere in the world.

"Customers have more choices now and they'll have even more in the future. Hence, they will demand the best services at best price. Our people need to be doing great jobs all the time.

"In terms of ambiguity, there will be more and more because of the factors that I just mentioned."

"Khun Kitti, where are we now?"

"We're in the process of anticipating the business landscape for 2017."

"How satisfied are you so far?"

"I think I have a good enough idea."

"What do you want to discuss next?"

"Based on what we just discussed, I now have a better plan for next week's meeting."

"What do you have in mind?"

"I will start by telling my 10 leadership team members that the goal of the meeting is to identify some fresh key assumptions for the business plan. Then, I will ask them the first question: what will the 2017 business landscape look like? I think they will come up with similar answers to mine.

"Then, I will ask the Drucker question: 'What has already happened that will create the future for our company? I expect they will come up with similar answers to the ones I gave you.

"Then we will discuss the remaining issues: our positioning, goals, strategies and action plan."

"That's sounds like a good plan to me. What could go wrong?"

"When I ask the Drucker question, my team might come up with vague and broad answers. They might start to take detours in many directions."

"How will you prevent that?"

"I need to make them focus more."

"How could you ask a better focus question, then?"

He pauses to reflect. "I think I will ask the core question: 'What has already happened that will create the future for our company?' But then I will add, 'Please focus on these three aspects: competition, customers, and the ambiguity of the business environment.' "

"What if your team comes up with different answers from yours?"

"I will influence them to understand me better. Eventually, they will agree with my conclusions."

"That will be perceived as manipulation."

"Oh, I haven't thought about that. But you're right."

"What should you do?"

"I have to be open-minded. When they come up with different answers, I have to really listen to them and try to understand them. If they're right I will change my view. If they're right 80% I won't object and I will allow them to act on their beliefs. They will own it 100%."

"Great. Let's follow up in our next session."

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under the brand TheCoach. He can be reached at Daily inspirational quotations can be found on his Facebook fan page: Previous articles are archived at