Follow me for a minute…
People plan the way they’re used to planning. It’s like a habit. If the habit is effective, you probably look good. Your “style” of planning is based on some questions. They are like your default.
So what happens if you continue to have only marginal relevance with your customers and your annual planning/research process results in no major changes? You may just wonder why your discussions all sound the same, and why you never really generate the answers you need.
Change the basis questions of your planning.
When you talk about something, assumptions are being made. For some people, the basis question (never voiced) is “What should we do this year, as a continuation from what we did last year?” When you make an assumption like this, think about what is being excluded:
– Are we certain that where we’re going is relevant?
– How do we know that what we’re building (product) is relevant to consumers?
– Are we focusing on the right markets?
While it certainly isn’t appropriate to completely re-evaluate every aspect of your direction on an annual basis, it is appropriate to think about what the basis question for the planning session is. This is most appropriate where performance is less than you would like.
In many cases a good start is to take a few steps back.
Note: Good research will validate or challenge the assumptions you have made about your customers, markets, and direction.