When you walk up to that first tee shot, armed with your driver and ball, and you feel the eyes of your flight partners boring into you, you better be prepared if you want to hole in with a decent score on the green.

Sure, you can talk to the ball, threaten to dump it in the next water hazard or ask for help from above or lady luck. All this might get you there, but the better solution by far is: you’ve got to have a thorough plan of action. And this is where golf and business are very much alike.

Strategic and operational business to a great extent resembles how you approach your next golf shot. The routine should always include basic analysis and diagnosis of the situation, development of a vision and target as well as a strategy about how to get there, great execution, checking the results and finally, adjusting your strategy if you are’nt where you want to be yet.

A) Analyze the situation “as is”: The first thing you do is to try to understand the present situation. On the golf course, this is the terrain, the environment incl. weather, the hazards, your capabilities and probably half a dozen more things. In business, you need to analyze the market situation, the competition, your own portfolio, price settings, your supply chain and so on. Look at the whole picture, end to end. In both cases, the key to success is always solid analysis and diagnosis of things “as they are”.

B) Develop a vision or a target “where you want to be” The next step is to envision where you want to be in the near future. Do you want to play it safe and lay up or, as many of us often try to do, shoot the ball right onto the green, across all hazards – no risk, no fun! In business you need to define where you want to be at the end of a year for example. What is your targeted market position or year-end budget? What are your planned stock levels or delivery times? You can only start thinking about how to get there when your targets are clear. But be careful to avoid the temptation of overestimating and setting the target too high. It has to be in line with your capabilities. A 250-yard drive or doubling the revenue might be impossible and completely out of your league.

C) Define the strategy of “how to” reach your target Knowing where you want to go sets the stage for a very important step – choose your club, swing and spot where the ball should hit the ground first. Or, as a business manager would say, choose the right products or services, plan marketing tools, define sales efforts, set pricing and organize the supply chain effectively. If you have chosen all the right means and they are set up to interact smoothly, you should be halfway there. Very often, there are several ways to achieve your goals, just make sure you spend enough time evaluating the situation before deciding on a strategy.

D) Execute, i.e. “do it” Now is the time for action. Execute what you have envisioned, play your ball with a gentle, but determined swing and have fun with it. Get your sales team motivated, activate your marketing measures, create demand for your offer and let your supply chain do its job. In most cases you can see right from the start where things are going to end up. While swinging, you can already tell that you’re going to shank the ball or send it directly over the fence into the next parking lot. You feel early in the process if your marketing campaign is getting you the right attention. Small adjustments might be possible. Changing the strategy and targets completely halfway through is not advisable, it’s like interrupting your swing and trying to play a chip instead of a pitch.

E) Reality Check, „Where did you end up?“ After all is said and done you will need to evaluate the outcome. Is your ball in the target area? Did you avoid the bunker, did you come close to the green or did you even ace it? Have you reached your numbers, did you win new customers or a bigger market share? Did you deliver on time? It’s crunch time – did your strategy and execution worked out as planned? Hitting the target spot on is definitely extremely challenging. You might miss by an inch or two, but coming really close is a necessity on the golf course as well as in business. Accuracy wins over imprecision. Don’t deliver at 4PM when your time slot was 10AM. “Almost on the green” could still mean you’re in the water hazard.

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F) Analyze the result and start again Back to the beginning. Analyze where you ended up and how you got there, set a new target and strategy and move on. Until you hole in and start again from the next tee, or end up at the 19th hole. But unlike golf, business never stops. So far I haven’t found the 19th hole in business, but I’ll keep looking.

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between doing business and playing a round of golf. If you approach both tasks with a solid strategy, chances are good you will reach your targets. While we are not in a position to help you effectively on the golf course, we would be happy to discuss strategy, with special focus on your supply chain management, with you.