Planning is a circle of activity—a dynamic continuous process of setting and revising temporary targets and developing strategies and tactics for achieving them. Any endeavor or enterprise can be accidently successful for a short period of time—they can have their Andy Warhol fifteen minutes of fame. However, it is even more likely that they will simply fail without ever achieving their fifteen minutes of success. The important question is what do purposely successful companies do that sets them apart from the rest of the pack. The answer is they intentionally do five things:
- Engage in the planning process
- Set goals and objectives
- Develop plans for achieving those goals
- Prepare their team for opportunities and contingencies
- Measure progress and hold people accountable
Only a few organizational teams achieve excellence. Or in Jim Collins’ vernacular, only a few go from good to great. As for the rest, either they don’t plan at all, or the production of “the plan” (a well written an attractively bound document) has become the goal itself. The problem, of course, is that the best thought-out plan resting on the bookshelf serves its purpose about as well as a broken watch tells time—it shows the correct time twice every day. Some general is said to have barked “all plans are good until the first bullets are fired. Then it all goes out the window.” Plans produce targets based on assumptions. Assumptions are inaccurate estimates about the future. Thus planning for the future would be impossible if it were not so absolutely essential for survival and success; therefore, the purposefully successful enterprise’s most important plan is the plan to change the plan.
Planning is a continuous ongoing process. It is not some bound book. The plan shapes the decisions and actions of the team by establishing temporary targets—and the team’s actions and decisions made on the front line change the plan.
It is a dynamic process illustrated in part by the Opportunity Wedge. As time advances on the future, assumptions become more accurate. Decisions and actions made on the front line close in on a target that moves from a Cone of Uncertainty to a clearer target. For such a dynamic process to work it must be a state of mind, a way of thinking and communicating, where the team is nimble and quick on its feet, constantly adjusting and refining the plan to changing conditions and expectations.
Mysteries by Tom Collins include Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, and Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest, The Claret Murders. For signed copies go to http://store.markrollinsadventures.com. Ebook editions are available on Amazon for the Kindle, on Barnes & Noble for the Nook and in Apple iTunes' iBookstore for the iPad. Paperback editions are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online bookstores.