“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare”. Japanese Proverb.
Some people love to plan and others hate it, believing it restricts their flexibility to respond and arguing they work in such a changeable environment that its simply not worth it. Maybe they’ve experienced a turgid bureaucratic process that was only focused on financials and over time it has grown into a chore that has to be endured every year. Other people actively enjoy thinking about the future rather than working on achieving reality. The sweet spot is to have a vision and a plan of action that results in you achieving your vision. It’s really important to choose a planning process that works for your organisation so that the time you spend really does add value in delivering results. One size does Not fit all! So how do you decide what planning process to adopt?
Your planning maturity and capability
If you have never created a long term plan before then it’s much better to do something simple with a few key people than to create a sophisticated process, using many different planning tools and involving all stakeholders. You don’t want a lengthy, overwhelming and impractical process. You can build your level of sophistication gradually to match your capability to think strategically and most importantly to your capability in implementing your plan. This 2×2 matrix shows options that you can choose to plan effectively depending on your size and maturity as an organisation.
Current process effectiveness
If you have a planning process already, evaluate what is working so you can improve rather than start from scratch. One organisation measured the effectiveness of their planning against a benchmark of good planning and used that to implement a more effective way of doing things. Each year they improved their process to suit their needs.
Size and complexity of organization
Smaller organisations don’t need as sophisticated planning process as a larger one. A good strategic planning process will include key stakeholders right from the start so when new directions emerge there is already buy in, which speeds the adoption of change. Generally larger organisations have more stakeholders, but the increasing diversity of organisations that partner for success can lead to complex small organisations. In these kind of virtual organisations, working to involve stakeholders in your planning can be crucial.
Speed of environmental changes
If your external environment is changing quickly then planning needs to synchronise. If planning takes a long time then external perspectives may be out of date before you action. Conversely a short planning cycle means you are expending unnecessary effort if the environment hasn’t changed. The cadence of your planning cycle needs to be deliberately chosen.
Degree of engagement from stakeholders
How critical is it that you engage your stakeholders? It may be important to have partners, employees or shareholders on board with your plans early in your planning cycle – but this needs to be balanced with the up-front time this will take and the need to take action quickly as a result of being clear on your strategic context. Late engagement will delay implementation as stakeholders need time to buy into and adopt to new directions.
There are many different aspects in designing a process that will enable buy in and results. If you would like to discuss how you should optimise your process please get in touch!