To "Listen" is where the plan begins to take shape; input from coworkers, vendors, consultants and other advisors must be acquired and processed; but listening takes on even greater importance when it comes to customers. My good friend and advisor, John Spence, constantly touts the importance of owning the "Voice of the Customer"; for that to happen requires focused listening and rapt attention.
What is said or written only matters to the extent that you "Understand" what is being communicated. Simply hearing or just reading words doesn't qualify. It is essential to evaluate intent and purpose in the message.
Genuine understanding should prompt you to continually “Adapt” to changing needs and circumstances. These shifts are both internal and external in nature and are typically subtle if active listening and understanding are made an integral part of daily practice. It's much like trimming the sails and adjusting the rudder on a sailboat; ongoing minor corrections reduce the need for dramatic course corrections, although occasionally those are warranted as well. It's always better to adapt to changing circumstances along the way, rather than be forced to make sudden, major adjustments later if early signals have been ignored.
Ultimately, a plan will only result in success if effective actions are taken to “Deliver” in accordance with ongoing input. It's the point where the mission meets the market. May your personal Plan for Success lead to higher levels of success and satisfaction in 2013 than you have ever experienced, as you:
- Enjoy the Journey!