Planning Through Organizational Charts

by Warren Barhorst

The Concept

In Game Plan, I strongly encourage the reader to dream and plan for the future by visualizing, goal setting, and planning. It is well-documented that few of us take the time to actually put our plans on paper, but I believe this process is one of the keys to success. Since my early days as an entrepreneur, I have always used organizational charts as one of my planning tools. Even when our company only had two employees, my wife Lisa and myself, I still designed an organizational chart for the operation. I would lay out what I wanted the company to look like today, in one year, and in five years. The best part about using an organizational chart for planning is that it gives you a visual picture of what your operation will look like. Just like directions to a destination or instructions on how to assemble something, a map or diagram always makes it easier to understand. I urge any aspiring businessperson to add organizational chart planning to his or her process.

The Tools

There are hundreds of different program options available to draw your chart. Since most of us already have a version, I like using the organizational chart feature in PowerPoint®. It works well for companies with less than 50 employees and firms that do not have a complicated business structure. If your plans are more complicated and you want to invest a few dollars in software, you can check out Microsoft® VISIO® or SmartDraw®. You can also Google® ?organizational chart software? and pick a program that you like. Most of the vendors on the web allow you to use a trial version free for 30 days.

The Process

There are no specific rules on how to build organizational charts, but I like to start my chart planning process on a scratch pad or white marker board. I do this because I do not want the complexities of drawing or operating the computer to stall the creative process. Depending on your computer skills and creative process you can work through the ideas below in a manner that works best for you.

The first step is to put yourself on the top of the chart, assuming you own the operation or are in charge of it!

Step two is to start thinking about the current positions / departments in your operation and what future positions / departments your company may need. If you are new to business, you may want to look at other organizations for inspirations by Googling images of ?organizational charts?. If you know a national company that you like, use their name in your image search to see if their chart is out on the web. Doing this will help you with department names, position titles, and organizational structure. Most businesses can be broken down into five basic departments: Executive, Sales, Marketing, Operations, and Finance. Your business may have different department names, but usually the department will fall under one of these categories.

Step three is to set up your basic structure. This example illustrates a husband and wife operation with two full-time and one part-time employees. Notice that I have included all of the departments and positions in the company even though many of the positions are filled by the same person. This is the critical step in the Org Chart Planning Process that many aspiring entrepreneurs miss. You want to draw the present-day diagram with all of the departments and positions that the company currently needs to operate. By listing the departments and positions your subconscious mind will help you recruit talent as your company grows. After you complete your present day chart, I would then build a chart with the positions/departments that you want to have in place in the next 12 months, and then a chart for what you want the company to look like in five years.

The next step in Organizational Chart Planning is to share your chart with your team. Employees that work for small business owners want to know that they are part of something on the ground floor that is growing and seeing the future on paper increases their engagement and makes them want to work hard so that they have the opportunity to fill one of the management roles on a future chart.

The final step in this planning process is to include your charts with your business plans. Make sure to review them on a regular basis and update them at least annually so that you continue to visualize and study your long-term goals.

In closing, I would ask for you to remember that you would not build a house without a blueprint or drive from New York to Texas without a map. So why do you think you can build and navigate the business world without a plan? Planning is the easiest part of business and the most often overlooked. It takes a little time and thought but Planning with Org-Charts will increase your chances of success 1000 fold.

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