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Just Build a Bridge – Plan It!

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

In the family of Business Plans (Strategic, Operational, Work, Team and Individual), Operational Plans play a pivotal role. They are the bridge between high-level thinking and actually doing. They connect thoughts, ideas and wish lists to the tangible actions that get you there.

The linkage between strategic plans and operational plans is particularly important. They can’t exist without each other! Despite this, many clubs and hospitality venues have attempted to run on one or the other. Some conceptualise and envisage their end goals and objectives but don’t go to the next step of formulating the activities and actions that will move them to success. Others are good at processes, procedures, systems and production but end up realising “this is not where we want to be!” (this is typically a result of doing it the way it has always been done.)

Perhaps, the roadblock and difficulty in building and combining a strategic and operational plan (and then continuing the family tree to work, team and individual plans) lie in neurology and the different mindsets needed to create these plans.

For Strategic Planning (which should come first), there are two overarching elements. To start with you need to know where you are – Point A. This is a data-gathering, research-driven and in-the-moment exercise. The Cerebrum (the largest part of our brains) is responsible for processing information such as this. Sometimes we call this left-brain thinking - logical and rational, facts and figures.

Then your need to know where you want to be – Point B. In a large part, goal setting comes down to our hippocampus. It taps into our requirements and dreams to create the powerful drive, otherwise known as motivation. And, there is another aspect of our brain that is part of determining goals - our reward system. Visualising and envisaging end goals requires lateral and creative thinking, which is associated with the right side of the brain.

Now, over to Operational Planning.

So, once you know where you are and where you want to get to. Operational plans set out the specific activities and actions you need to put in place to get you from point A to point B. Building the bridge.

Stanford University researchers found that the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex work in tandem, in ways that allow us to plan and navigate a route from one location to another. Goal-oriented navigation is a complex process that requires creating a mental game plan for reaching the future places you intend to go. It means you need to switch from imaging a future state, using the right-brained oriented hippocampus; to utilising the prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain that is key to reasoning, problem-solving, comprehension, impulse control and perseverance. Visualise where you want to be and then determine how you are going to get there.

Building a Strategic/Operational plan combination is not easy. It requires accessing different neurological functions and asking individuals to step out of their comfort zone and normal modus operandi. That’s why collaboration and involving a range of stakeholders can yield good results when it comes to bringing your club's business plans to fruition.

The next club managers webinar, “Planning for Success”, discusses Operational Planning and the key areas to cover and address in building an Operational Plan that can make a real difference and be of benefit in your club or hospitality venue.

If you would like to register and attend, please visit


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