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Creating a business plan for the 'new normal'

'Coach Kriengsak, I want to discuss our business plan for 2016," Pravit tells me. "This is the time of year when our organisation normally starts to work on the plan for the following year. But when I look back at the past three years, I think we have not planned very well. I want to do it differently this time."

"Khun Pravit, tell me more. What do you mean when you say you haven't planned well?"

"Our company planning system has been based on historical records and data, to which we basically just add new figures. But I've come to realise that the business landscape is no longer static as it was in the past. It's become much more dynamic."

"What do you have in mind?"

"Over the weekend, I read the book Create your Future the Peter Drucker Way, by Bruce Rosentein. I was inspired by the concept, which basically goes like this: 'It's true that the future is unknown and essentially unpredictable, but there is a lot about the future that is partially known.' I've drawn my inspiration from the question posed by the book: 'What has already happened that will create the future?'"

"What has already happened that will create the future -- in political, economic, social and technological terms?" I ask.

"Coach, I think I'll use this question to my leadership team before we start the planning process. This will help them to have a fresh mindset instead of using historical data to plan for the future."

"Khun Pravit, that's a great plan. But nothing ever goes entirely as planned. What could go wrong?"

"To do this effectively, my leadership team needs a good knowledge of current events. Otherwise, they won't be able to properly answer the 'What has already happened?' questions."

"You have 10 direct reports. How many of them are aware of current affairs?"

"There are only two of that I'd consider well aware. Five are moderately aware and the other three seem to have no clue what's going on outside the organisation."

"What will you do?"

"I know some professors and senior journalists with a good grasp of current affairs and the ability to communicate well with others. I'd like to invite them to take part in a day-long seminar for my people. Then, the following day, our leadership team will work on Peter Drucker's question."

"That's a good start. What else do you want to discuss about next year's business plan?"

"I think I'm OK with this. But I'd like to share another learning point from this book. The author's goal is for the book to be as interactive as possible. At the end of each chapter, there is a brief checklist of items to keep in mind as the reader "creates" the future. For example, at the end of Chapter 1, here are the suggested actions:

1. Start a notebook or computer file (ideally both) on Creating the Future.

2. As you begin to read this book, note your current attitudes toward the future and what some of your goals are, both personally and professionally. You can then compare what you've written to what you'll write as you continue reading the book.

3. List three to five role models of people (either those you know or public figures) who seem to be adept at navigating the future.

4. List three to five organisations (business or otherwise) you believe have the same qualities.

5. Think of times in your life when you have applied the Zen concept of the beginner's mind. Consider ways that approach can be applied to future tasks and challenges, as well as to those you are facing now."

"Thank you Khun Pravit, that's very useful. Now that you've read this book, what are your answers to the question: What has already happened that will create the future?"

"Coach, my concerns centre on the people aspect. Here is what I anticipate in this regard:

We're starting to be an ageing society. A lot of my own key people will retire very soon. We need to come up with good succession plan.

The new-generation knowledge workers are not looking for long-term employment. They want to get rich faster. They want to have freedom. Many are looking to start their own businesses. Hence, keeping them engaged is not easy. Our managers have to learn to be very good at engaging and inspiring people.

We're dealing with a multi-screen lifestyle. Young knowledge workers have a far different lifestyle than their older peers. Their lives revolve around their screens. They believe social media influencers (SMI) more than their managers. Hence, managers have to learn how to influence their teams the way SMIs do."

"That's good, Khun Pravit. Let's stop here and follow up on your action plans 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