Are You Being Killed By Your Business Plan?

If your business plan was written more than one year ago, chances are it is out of date and not in tune with the current marketplace.

The classic business plans in the past relied on 5 year and 10 year horizons that gave the organization a vision and a direction to dominate in their market. But today, the marketplace is changing so quickly that any long-term business plan is a waste of time and, if you follow it, will probably result in your business failing.

Motorola and the Iridium Business Plan

In the late 1980’s Motorola launched an initiative they called Iridium. This was an ambitious 12 year program to launch 66 satellites that would provide global satellite phone coverage. They came up with this business plan because they saw that cell phone technology was expensive for the users and for the companies providing infrastructure.

They believed that their line-of-sight, clunky, $3000 sat-phone handset and $5 per minute airtime fee would be better than cellphones in 12 years. What they failed to anticipate was that cellphone technology (both handset and infrastructure) would advance as quickly as it did.

As a result of this gross oversight, Iridium filed for bankruptcy in 1999 after burning through over $5B and was bought by a group of investors in 2001 for $35M! It lists as one of the 10 biggest tech failures of the last decade by Time magazine!

So, how can you avoid this massive miscalculation, now commonly referred to as the “Iridium Moment”?

7 Components of a Healthy Business Plan Culture

A business plan is more than just a written plan. It must be a mindset or a culture that is baked into the organization. A great business plan culture:

  1. Understands that the business aligns around a core purpose
  2. Recognizes that a business plan is an important part of any business
  3. Builds relevant and powerful business metrics to measure progress against the plan and in the marketplace
  4. Knows that the marketplace is changing incredibly fast and is constantly on the lookout for opportunities and threats
  5. Appreciates that the business plan is a living document and must adjust and update as the marketplace changes
  6. Encourages constant learning for all its staff. This quest for knowledge helps the business see or anticipate market changes in time to participate in the change rather than react to the change.
  7. Constantly communicates the business plan and progress against it to the whole organization.

Take Action 

When was your business plan written? When was the last time you reviewed it or communicated your progress to the whole organization?

Spend some time over this next week and review your business plan in detail. Is it still relevant? What needs to change?

Implement changes to your business practices and culture so you are constantly reviewing and measuring progress against your plan. Create additional practices that force you and your team to strategically review the business landscape for things that may impact your current business model.

Finally, spend some time and review the following related articles for some more ideas on maintaining business agility:


In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Dwight D. Eisenhower


How have you handled business plans in your organization? Leave your comments below!


Download a free copy of my new Ebook: 12 Steps to Business Transformation. If you would like a business assessment to help kick off your business transformation, contact me at or at 587-227-5179.

Be sure to sign up at for weekly blog updates delivered to your inbox.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.