Business Plan Development Exercise

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Depending on the intent, a DesignShop will generate various kinds of plans: strategic plans, business plans, operational plans, action plans, et cetera. If the intent is to build a business plan, it is often referred to as an “engineering level” or “building level” DesignShop. The Scan phase is not omitted, though the boundaries are tighter, allowing participants to go into greater depth (for example, producing a refined scenario of the conditions within which the plan is to operate). Focus activities address major options and contingency plans. The Act phase involves participants (with staff support) creating a draft of the business or operational plan. (Subsequent revisions of the plan typically scheduled as well). The MG Taylor “Business Plan Components” provides a business plan format for developing a plan that you could take to a venture capitalist. During the Act phase, writing the plan is typically “fast tracked” by having separate teams develop different components of the plan simultaneously.

To develop all aspects of a business plan in a short time frame. To take an idea into “Building-level” work.

Developing a business plan is typically a two- or three-day DesignShop.

Strengths — The “MG Taylor Business Plan Components” was developed in consultation with venture capitalists; it’s a strong format regardless of the intended use, requiring groups to think through various facets of their plan. Weaknesses — It may not be the best format for every situation. By design, it’s redundant — similar information is repeated in various places throughout the plan, and thus may not be as “efficient” to produce as other formats. Specifications for Success — 1. Have participants bring information with them, or have associates “on call” to provide it as needed. 2. Prepare for a high volume of very specific information. Have staff prepare templates, data bases, et cetera, and learn the participant group’s terms of art ahead of time. 3. This represents a different deployment of staff than normal; consider assigning a special project manager (separate from the DesignShop project manager) to the task of coordinating the support and production of the draft plan.

Electronic Templates: a format for the finished business plan and each component; computers for use in Break-Out areas; appropriate software; filing and paper management tools (Bankers’ boxes, et cetera); and greater-than-normal access to photocopiers.


For this work, the KnowledgeWorker staff apply the full range of their skills: writing, typing, editing, illustrating, developing spreadsheets, developing charts and graphs, organizing, production, work flow management, desktop publishing, project management, project mapping, analysis, assessment, and team facilitation.