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The Alternative Board Blog

Find a Balance Between Agility and Planning

Feb. 21, 2024 | Posted by Lee Polevoi


For many CEOs and business owners, there’s a delicate balancing act between maintaining an agile approach to leadership and adhering to the goals of a business plan.

Agility encompasses the need to stay flexible in the face of ever-changing market conditions. A business plan marks the organization’s best efforts to set an agreed-upon goal and the ways in which to achieve that goal over an established period of time.

At first blush, these may appear to be contradictory processes. However, savvy business leaders find a way to balance agility and planning to their companies’ benefits. If you face a similar challenge, here are some tips to keep in mind:


Always put the customer first.

Regardless of your company’s current and planned strategies for growth, it’s vital to “keep your customers at the heart of every business decision.” Applying a customer-centric approach helps maintain the focus on what your existing (and prospective) target audience needs and wants.

Understanding your customers through live-chats and other technology enables you to “account for the chance of potential customer problems and the space to address them,” notes InvoiceBerry. In this way, you are better-placed to “allocate resources to address their problems [so] your strategic goals will be better in line with customer satisfaction.”


Determine the best goal for your business.

Not knowing what the ultimate goal of planning is another “trap” for business owners and CEOs to watch out for. Determining the most important organizational objective is essential to remaining agile and effective.

“The key for agile plans is to develop them with the goal in mind and for a short period of time,” advises Brainhub. Refrain from setting “everything in stone during planning sessions [so] even if it turns out the plan needs to be changed and adjusted, the costs are acceptable or even insignificant.”


Use clear, easy-to-understand language in your plan.

As we have noted before, sometimes a business plan “doesn’t really add up in terms of its analysis, description of challenges, and potential solutions.” Therefore, in your efforts to balance planning and agility, avoid the use of overly complicated or convoluted wording. Make sure the plan’s language is straightforward and accessible to people throughout the organization.


Stay focused on the plan.

While an agile business plan must be adaptable to change, certain elements of that plan should remain intact.

Ongoing changes in plan components such as the company’s vision, mission, and cultural values “will negatively impact stability and lessen employee engagement,” notes Lilly Consulting Group. At the same time, “how you get to that desired result will likely need to change and evolve (typically, your goals, objective, strategies and tactics)” so stay open to “a more iterative approach at the execution level.”

In other words, be flexible in your methodology, while staying focused on the company’s higher goals.


Get your team actively involved.

Conventional business planning generally takes the form of “top to bottom,” with the company leader assuming business charge of the process and team members following their lead. But this approach isn’t always the most effective option.

For business agility and planning to achieve smooth integration, leaders “must invest more time and energy upfront to help the team understand the big picture and the organizational strategy,” notes Opensource.com. Empowering the team “to make adjustments and tradeoffs” will result in a plan that “dynamically changes to accommodate new learnings.” 


Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board


Written by Lee Polevoi

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