Blog 3 | The Marathon Way | Business Planning & Clarity | June / July 2016

Roadmap to a High Performing, Growing Business

“Darkness… exists because of the absence of light;
Confusion… occurs in the absence of planning; and
Vagueness… prevails when there is a lack of clarity.”

The 2nd discipline of the Organisational Health Foundation is Business Planning and Clarity. A leadership team has to behave in a cohesive way. It should also be intellectually aligned and committed to answer 7 simple, but critical questions to direct and focus their organisation.


Marathon Foundation 1.2: Business Planning and Clarity

Why is business planning an important discipline?

Over the past 25 years our partners have had the privilege of working in corporate, professional services and entrepreneurial environments. If you were to ask us what is the most important success factor, we would say it is the discipline of consistent planning, delivery, reporting and good/thorough governance practices.This discipline brings a certain rhythm and momentum to a business. Its value should not be underestimated. We all want positive momentum in our businesses. In order to achieve it we should focus on 2 variables i.e. mass (intellectual talent of your organisation) times/multiplied by directional speed (intellectual alignment and actions underpinned by good business planning practices).

A business normally has a 2-year planning cycle that repeats itself:

  • 1st 6 months – strategy and business planning
  • next 12 months – delivery of plans
  • last 6 months – reporting of results to shareholders

Business planning is therefore an annual process that aligns the leadership team around the following questions i.e. Where are we, where do we want to be, what are the gaps, what has to change and how do we bring about the change?


Create clarity by answering these 7 simple, but critical questions

It is important that the answers to these questions are clear in foundation 1 to support a healthy, well-aligned organisation. (A few of these questions are normally answered during foundation 2 of The Marathon Way when a formal strategy process is done)

1) Who are we?
What is our industry and where do we position ourselves in the value chain?

2) Why do we exist?
How do we define our core purpose? This is important as employees want to be part of something inspirational and bigger than themselves.

3) How do we behave?
To build a healthy culture an organisation has to be clear on what behaviours (i.e. values) are acceptable and what are not.

4) What do we do?
A simple one-line elevator message of what we offer to our market.

5) How will we succeed?
What is our winning aspiration, where do we play and how will we win i.e. what are our strategic anchors?

6) What is most important, right now?
Every organisation should have a single top priority for a given time period. This creates a sense of alignment and focus.

7) Who must do what?
Once organisational goals are set, leaders have to be clear on what their respective responsibilities are when they go back to their day jobs i.e. level 4 plans should be clear – what, how, who and when.

If you need support with your annual business planning process or a thinking partner to create clarity in your organisation, the Marathon Team is ready to assist you.


Next month:

In our next blog we will explore the 3rd discipline of Organisational Health i.e. Organisational alignment and Engagement.Once a plan is in place and the leadership team has clarity, the rest of the organisation has to be aligned and engaged to ensure they know what to do to support the growth of the business.

Let’s go… and let’s build high performing, growing businesses with healthy leaders who lead the way!

For Enquiries

Marius Botha | +27 912 2900

Meaning before money

We believe that making meaning comes before making money. Since founding Marathon, we have therefore invested our time in under-resourced organisational projects where our skills make a meaningful difference. Projects where we are involved include:







For more information about our community projects, please contact us.