Monday, May 19, 2014

Planning For The Future

Right now, a lot of people are planning for the future. Meetings are happening. Committees are being formed. Task forces are being assembled.  Everyone has a sense of how the rest of this year is going to play out so they have started focusing on 2015 - 2020 with great interest.

For many people in leadership positions, this whole planning thing is a two step process, namely plan and then implement.  While I wish it could be true, successful planning and successful implementation is a multi-step process with a great deal complexity.

For us here today, let’s realize that planning for the future is a six step process. The first step is to prepare for planning. Here we personally sense and identify problems within the organization. Next, we figure out how to frame them up so we can clearly work on them in the next stage. We also mobilize people, i.e. coalition building, around these issues and get them to work as a team so they will be ready for the next stage of planning.

During the second step, we need to help all involve understand the purpose of the planning process and the plan. For example, they need to understand the planning road map, i.e. how many meetings and what is the goal of each meeting etc.  At this stage, we create the actual plan with all of it’s specific goals and objectives.

In the third step, we prepare for implementation of the plan. Now, all involved need to understand how to communicate the plan so there is wide spread ownership of it rather than defaulting to the normal “get’er done”mentality.

In the fourth step, we roll-out the plan and begin to implement it. Here, we need to focus on short term wins so people have greater confidence in the planning and the plan over time.

In the fifth step, everyone will be executing the plan. The key to success is to make sure we are using metrics to measure our progress.  Over time, the metrics help the changes to become standard operating procedure.

Finally, in the sixth step, we need to routinely pause for dialogue, evaluation, and review. It is important that we step back from what we are doing and check to make sure the assumptions and decisions we made back in step one and step two were the correct ones. This is not a time to just hold hands and sing “cum by ya”. It is a time for reflection and accountability. 

During the next 30 days, be more mindful of the above different steps to the planning process. Make sure the one you are participating in is well organized and purposeful. Over time, it will make a world of difference throughout the organization.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

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