October 5, 2020
Dave WrightKids are back in school, but life is not really back to normal. We are all crazy-busy right now tackling the backlog that was partially created by the pandemic. And now, add to that the stress of not being able to find materials and the perennial shortage of labour. It may seem like we are all doing lots of work and the money is rolling in, but are we actually making any profit?

I took some time recently to review my previous messages in this space and realized that I talk a lot about planning. Planning is the foundation of success. To some, planning comes easily; to others it is a chore. Not everyone is wired for planning, let alone leading a team though a planning exercise. And then there’s implementing the plan. I used to find that the hardest part of the process because it’s easier to come up with ideas than it is to build the buy-in and then actually make it happen. What’s the point of building a budget if you are just going to put it on the shelf and not look at it again until the next go around? What’s the point of doing a strategic plan if you don’t actually work toward any of the goals set out? I find that sharing the entire process with the management team allows for faster buy-in and built-in accountability. Taking the team approach allows us to hold each other accountable.

The flip-side of the planning process is that it is possible to overplan. Maybe it’s a fear of execution. It can be easy to get lost in the details and sometimes you just have to put your head down and push through it and take the leap. That is easy to say, but when there is a plan in place, the jump-off is easier because there’s certainty behind the decision-making. In a year like this, when changes are happening weekly if not daily, the plan in the background allows for gut-feeling decisions. But you still have to keep your eye on the changing dynamics. I found this year that the plan was often obsolete as soon as it was implemented. Sometimes you just have to go back and match your plan up to the evolving conditions.

Landscape Ontario is going through some of the same issues. We spent a lot of time getting our members safely back to work and then had a look at our programs and how we could offer them to members while still maintaining safety. In-person chapter meetings and social events like baseball and golf tournaments just weren’t possible. Snowposium was shifted online. Many changes had to be made quickly, sometimes on the fly, but with lots of thought going into it. Congress as we know it has been cancelled for 2021, but a different, more accessible online option is being created. Technology is coming to the forefront. Moving forward, we will have to look at new revenue sources for the association, as future shock events like this pandemic will affect our ability to put on our hugely successful trade show. Obviously none of these changes were in our recently completed strategic plan. How could we have predicted our current situation? However, our strategic plan gave us a solid foundation for getting the right programs running, getting the right people on staff, and the collaborative attitude to find solutions to every one of the issues that popped up.

Help is just around the corner. There are a bunch of programs and landscape industry consultants associated with LO that can help you tackle the strategic planning monster. I challenge you to find the help you need to move your company toward a prosperous future.
Dave Wright
LO President