proactive planning

The 4 Stages of Business Evolution, Stage 3 – Proactive Planning

Blog #205

As discussed in the past two blogs, #203 and #204, I believe companies experience and pass through four distinct stages in their growth cycle. These stages are as follows:

  • Reactive and Stuck
  • Stabilize and In Transition
  • Proactive and Planning
  • Thriving and Focused

Proactive and Planning

This week, we are going to concentrate on the third stage of business evolution, Proactive and Planning. As someone who is enjoying training and participating in endurance events, I equate this stage to the point when you’ve been exercising for a while and are starting to see results. It may have been slow getting there, but you are beginning to see some of the fruits of your labor. More importantly, you are starting to see what is possible.

When I begin working with leadership teams, we often set what Jim Collins calls a “BHAG,” or a “big, hairy, audacious goal”. The first time we set a BHAG, it is often something thrown against the wall and is as much of a dream as it is a goal. This does not mean it isn’t possible! However, as teams begin transitioning from the Stabilize to the Proactive Stage, it is incredibly exciting to watch them become hungry to go out and achieve it. When a BHAG evolves from an informal “Hey, that would be cool if we could do that” to a more confident “Okay, now it is time to dig in, roll up our sleeves, and figure out what exactly needs to be done to achieve that,” the team is firmly transitioning into the next stage.

Depending on the legacy brain damage and challenges the team has had to contend while on the journey (e.g., team dysfunction, legacy culture, generational shifts, and market changes, among other possible issues), the team may experience a stabilization hangover. In other words, sometimes when a team reaches the Stabilize Stage, the Proactive Stage may be modest, but is still just as important. I often observe this when the priorities of the team are as much outward-facing as inward-facing – especially if the senior leaders are looking for more of a work-life balance and stellar quality of life. There may be a year or two where some of these teams are growing, proactive, and planning, but at a different pace.

Embrace a New Normal

Remember, there is nothing wrong with taking one, two, six, or more quarters to stabilize, let the organization catch up, and embrace a new normal. 

This is not to say that we want to fall back into old, negative habits, but it does suggest that there is nothing wrong with taking a breath, embracing the moment, and enjoying how far the team has come. After, the team can begin reassessing what is possible by learning to dreaming big. 

At this point in time, teams begin seeing all the possibilities and where they can go. Expressing a quiet confidence and sense of empowerment is critical to letting your team members know they can change the course of the entire organization.

Next week, we will talk about the fourth and final stage, Thriving and Focused.

Need more practice with your planning? Are you interested in learning how to be a more proactive professional? We’re here to help you with that. Reach out to us today to learn more! https://entrepreneurial-advisors.com/contact/

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