Business planning is often a high-level exercise undertaken periodically, or a reactive process initiated by a crisis. Effective planning should be regular and structured to optimise performance across your organisation. Superior planning:
1. Creates a common language and shared understanding
A structured planning process involves all stakeholders and steps them through a sequence of steps which will generate a common language and shared understanding of the problem. The simple act of collaboratively stepping through the challenges, and options to tackle them, creates a common language and understanding among the team. This shared understanding is essential in allowing for faster adaptation when the original plan changes, as it inevitably will.
2. Generates alignment and unity of purpose
Clarifying the intent (the WHY) and the objective (the WHAT), although it sounds simple, is often the hardest part of planning but is critical to generating alignment and unity of purpose. Too often we assume we are all working toward the objective and have the same high-level understanding of why we are doing something, but this is often a fatal mistake. Purposeful clarification of both elements is critical and generates alignment (all pointing in the same direction) and unity of purpose (all pulling together).
3. Increases the quality of decisions
Despite significant evidence that spending just 5 minutes planning will improve decisions significantly, all too often we rush to make decisions based on instinct. Taking time to go through a structured problem-solving approach will significantly improve the quality of the decision and therefore the quality of the output as well.
4. Increases the speed of decision making
There are two aspects to speeding up decision-making: The first is having a structured problem-solving process. This allows all stakeholders to anticipate the next step (and requirements) but also it streamlines the discussion. This saves significant time wasted jumping around different topics in an illogical manner. The second is that planning is a learned skill. Increase in ability and confidence to apply the planning process on more complex tasks will reduce future planning requirements and the need to continually refine or adjust the plan, thus saving time.
5. Generates tempo
Effective planning is like a drumbeat setting the pace that drives the tempo of an organisation. As the organisation becomes used to the consistent “battle rhythm” it starts to optimise it and momentum builds, driving performance and tempo.
6. Allows for innovation and exploration of new ideas.
The deliberate practice of exploring innovative options for any challenge is a discipline all good planners share. Any problem-solving process that facilitates this practice will find new ideas are routinely incorporated into plans and in some cases, set the innovation agenda. Disruption doesn’t happen by mistake; it happens when organisations make innovation a habit as opposed to a lucky event.