Planning is a fundamental building block of success, but planning like everything can be done well, and done poorly. Poor planning is probably worse than no planning, as having done the planning, the expectation is that the “do-do” will not hit the fan, so when it does, the impact of the surprise can be devastating.
So, a few tips for planners:
- Always test assumptions, and ensure that to the extent possible, a wide range of variables have been considered, quantified, and tested.
- Remove ambiguous and flowery language, all that does is camouflage accountability
- Abandon templates that substitute for thinking. Templates that aid thinking by assisting the process of covering most of the bases can be very useful, but once they substitute for thinking they can be disastrous. Often the difference is a fine line.
- Make planning iterative and inclusive. I really like having a rolling 3 month planning cycle which is long enough to collect useful measures of effectiveness, but short enough to adjust in close enough to real time to be able to grab opportunities, and mitigate unexpected challenges. I also like having front line staff involved in some way, as often they are the ones that pick up the whispers well before they become evident in the numbers.
- Ask difficult and confronting questions, particularly those that relate to scared cows, ingrown processes, capabilities required, and possible competitive reactions to what you are doing.
Get planning, and when you need some critical thinking, drop me a line.