So, what’s the plan?
Are you hearing this question as often as I am?
It is a well-meaning question so I try not to take it to heart that I don’t really know the answer yet.
What is my plan? Where do I go from here?
Is it possible or even wise to plan during a pandemic?
I spoke to many restaurateurs and thought leaders that are taking very different approaches to planning. It’s been illuminating to analyze each approach to see which could be right for me. Here’s what I learned.
Roadmapping the brand
As big picture thinkers, we restaurateurs are great visionaries. We love to know the broad direction of where our business is going. Maybe we’re not so great at the steps to get there – or at least I wasn’t!
Pauline Brown, astounding author of Aesthetic Intelligence, taught me about the concept of creative briefs. “The creative brief is the strategy that surrounds your idea. It is a classic marketing document. You want the brief to not only become a template for your brand but also for everybody working on the execution to use the brief as a standard approach. It’s like a go-to-market strategy.”
From this view, planning for the future is about translating the vision into an actionable guideline to follow in perpetuity. This is an awesome approach as it sets the tone and message of the brand right from the beginning.
Taking the Long View
Folks like Chef Danielle Leoni of Breadfruit and Rum Bar, and the generous Othon Nolasco from No Us Without You, have given their time and money to creating change within the industry. I admire their charitable initiatives hugely as they support the hospitality industry as a whole. Both of their interviews on the podcast were incredibly inspiring. From a planning perspective, they both opened my eyes to a different approach: the long view.
In both the sustainability initiative that Danielle focusses on and the food stability initiative that Othon is working on, they plan for the long haul. Othon discussed how he wants his non-profit to support undocumented families for as long as they need them. That involves costing effectively, streamlining the operations, and keeping things lean to be in it for the long haul.
When creating systemic change or even changes at a singular business level, sometimes the long-term plan works best to align priorities and values.
Planning is Replanning
When I spoke to Matt Jennings of Full Heart Hospitality, he had a very compelling way of strategizing in tiny segments. He called it the 30/60/90 plan.
“What does your 30-day strategy look like? How can you get some small 30-day wins and capitalize on those wins? And then at the end of the month, look back and see what worked. Document it and then use that to make the roadmap for 60-days, and then for 90-days.”
I love this concept as it comes back to the idea that what gets measured gets managed. Having long term goals are awesome. A broad vision is important. But micro goals in sizeable chunks gives the business the flexibility to pivot when needed.
All three of these methods for planning have pros and cons. I can see the details being missed in the long view approach. However, the long view helps build sustainable practices that last over time. Equally, I can see how 30/60/90 planning could feel too detailed and small-scale. But it could also keep me light on my feet, ready to be reactionary to the changing tides.
I’m still figuring out what my plan for the future is. I think it’ll be some time until I have it all the way clear. At least I have some great minds to inspire me on how to plan my plan!