The power of experiences and how they can improve your business planning

The power of experiences and how they can improve your business planning


It is so easy for a business plan, or a strategic plan to become disconnected from the people that put it into action and who ultimately provide the outputs that it is measured by.

This may occur through their lack of involvement or input, or the challenge they have in seeing how it is applicable to what they do every day.

The same can be said for customer interactions. I must admit that most companies are very aware and very much focused on improving their customer management, but there can be some disconnection between this intent and the corporate objectives that actually drive the business.

So, for some time I have been searching for a way to ground business planning in a way that both makes it meaningful for customers and employees, but also gives it a tangible measure through everyday activities that can be related back to more traditional metrics.

The one theme that has emerged is improving experiences.

When I say experiences, I don’t just mean the customer experience in using your product or providing a complaint. I mean experiences in every part of your business and all the way along the value chain to your customers, their customers, to stakeholders and their friends, through every touch point with your product or content.

The experiences you have in every part of your business are a reflection on the critical areas that underpin your success, such as efficiency, responsiveness, strategic decision making, communications, health and wellbeing, customer satisfaction, sales, growth, reputation…the list goes on.

Amidst all of the focus on customer experiences, there seems to be a lack of awareness of the value and opportunity in improving the experiences in every part of your business. I’m sure you do it every day, with your team, but it’s seen as improving job satisfaction, or developing capability, or improving systems interfaces, but using this lens, you can see it all as improving experiences.

From a business improvement perspective, much work is done to reduce things like waste, duplication, waiting time, transport and miscommunication. All of these things reflect upon the experiences of a person, function or group as they strive to deliver against the goals for their area and ultimately, that of the company. So – a good way to look at improvement in all of these areas is to consider each experience your people have in trying to do their job and deliver value to the customer.

To kick this off its best to start with the big pieces before boiling it down to functions and processes. The big parts include:

  • The goal or purpose for the company – what do we aim to do and what sort of experience does that create?
  • What type of experience do we aim to create for our employees?
  • What type of experience do we aim to create for our customers?
  • What type of experience do we aim to create for our partners/stakeholders (if not seen as customers)?
  • What type of experience do we want to avoid?
  • How is our experience unique?

Using this discussion as a starting point, you can work through what each department of division adds to the big experiences and then work through how each of their functions contribute to this.

A critical party of this cascading analysis is identifying the parts of each experience that is negative and creating a plan to address this. Typically, this analysis will dredge up a lot of common issues that affect experiences at every level of interface point.

So, in a way, taking this approach to planning provides a reference point for related bodies of work, such as targeted business improvement, employee engagement, capability development or external communications and branding.

The most powerful part of this approach is the way people can relate to experiences. They see them every day and in many ways they are a participant in the experience cycle you are depicting. If you can capture the fundamental elements of each experience well and communicate that visually with strong graphics and imagery, you will have a really strong platform for shared improvement.

So, next time you start your business planning cycle, think about how a focus on experience improvement may help you to understand the changes you need to make to achieve your goals.

If you would like to know more about how to analyse and plan for experience improvements in your business, contact me at

Benjamin Smith