I do often think that annual business plans are a stunning waste of time. You know the sort of thing – lots of people involved, a whole day or more out of the workplace, heaps of work, enthusiasm, good intentions and careful word-smithing of the final document – that once written, sits in the bookshelf, unopened, from one year to the next. And the pity of this situation when it happens (for it is quite common), is that the “management tool” isn’t used as intended which is, to clearly define goals, specify the actions needed to achieve them, set deadlines for achieving the tasks and establish processes for monitoring, reviewing and adjusting the plan, as needed. Business plans are intended to provide a clear focus in order to achieve desired results and once written, need to be used and implemented. If they’re not implemented, despite the work that has gone into them, then it may be more useful to stop the pretence of planning sessions and have a coffee instead. The old saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is true and I would add if managers don’t use the management tool at all then perhaps it is time to brush up on their management knowledge and skills.