Lean business planning isn’t about a plan that you do once. Just like lean manufacturing and lean startups, it’s a process of continuous improvement.
Lean Planning is always up to date
With lean planning, your business plan is always a fresh, current version. You never finish a business plan, heave a sigh of relief, and congratulate yourself that you’ll never have to do that again. You don’t use it once and throw it away. You don’t store it in a drawer to gather dust.
However, this kind of regularly updated planning is clearly better for business than a more static elaborate business plan. With lean planning, the plan is smaller and streamlined so you can update it easily and often, at least once a month. Your lean plan is much more useful than a static plan because it is always current, always being tracked and reviewed, frequently revised, and is a valuable tool for managing. You run your business according to priorities. Your tactics match your strategy. Your specific business activities match your tactics. And accountability is part of the process. People on the team are aware of the performance metrics, milestones, and progress or lack of it. Things get done.
Furthermore, even back in the old days of the elaborate business plan, it was always true that a good business plan was never done. I’ve been pointing that out since the 1980s, in published books, magazine articles, and blog posts. That’s not new with lean business planning. It’s just more important, and more obvious, than ever before.
It’s lean planning, not just a plan
So a business plan is not a single thing. It’s not something you can buy, or find pre-written. You don’t do it and forget it, and you don’t find a business plan or have one written for you. If you work with an expert, consultant, coach, or business plan writer, realize that in real use a business plan lasts only a few weeks before it needs to be reviewed and revised. So your value added from the expert has to help you in the long term. If you don’t know your plan intimately, then you don’t have a plan.