The Notion of the Business Plan Review

By Marshall Goldsmith

As you create your earned life, you will look at the lessons you’ve learned, the insights you’ve had, and the teaching that has had an impact on you. I have had a series of profound insights over the years, which I have used to formulate new ways of coaching. These are the concepts of 

  • the referent group
  • the notion of feedforward
  • stakeholder-centered coaching
  • the business plan review (BPR)
  • the “what’s next” weekend
  • daily questions
  • building a coaches community (called 100 coaches)

Here, I’d like to explore the notion of the Business Plan Review (BPR)

I adopted this from the way that former Ford CEO Alan Mulally structured weekly meetings. 

Alan explained this brilliant leadership concept to me when we started working together, but I wasn’t paying full attention at the time. I thought it was a rigid schematic for running a meeting—fixed time and day, mandatory attendance, five minutes to report progress, traffic light colors (red, yellow, green) to grade status updates, no judgment, no cynicism, and other rules—the kind of structure that would fascinate a superior engineer like Alan. 

He took the concept with him to Ford and made it the managerial centerpiece of his transformation of the failing automaker. 

Marshall Goldsmith Meme

On closer inspection, I saw that the BPR wasn’t cold and bloodlessly technocratic. On the contrary, it was grounded in a piercing understanding of people, as if Alan had internalized Drucker’s ideas about the “customer” and employed the weekly BPR to treat his executive team not as his direct reports, but rather as stakeholders in one another’s success, with each executive representing additional groups of stakeholders (customers, suppliers, members of the community, etc.). 

Not everyone appreciated it — but the beauty of this was that they self-identified and, in a way, knew that they weren’t cut out for the jobs they were holding. 

The BPR made everyone accountable to both themselves and the group. This met their dual need for internal validation and belonging to something greater than themselves. 

With the BPR, Alan the engineer had built an impregnable fortress that was adaptable to any enterprise and goal. 

I adapted it and used it as part of a plan I would come up with that I could  apply to helping successful people achieve positive lasting change in their behavior. 

Marshall Goldsmith Meme
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