For the last month I have been writing about developing your plan for 2009 and beyond. We have covered:
- Priorities, and now
- Finalizing the Plan
Much has been written on strategic planning and many professors, educators, consultants and advisors have been working with companies on strategic planning initiatives for many years. Personally, I have seen little benefit in terms of real results from all of this effort. Many strategic plans have been developed by senior managers at off-sites that have then been distributed in the infamous red three-ring binders we’ve all had in our offices. Too often these plans sit on the bookshelf and amount to nothing.
Why has strategic planning been so woefully ineffective? Some of the reasons are that they are too wordy, difficult to follow and not connected an individual’s own priorities. Thus these plans are largely a waste of time, and most of us are not particularly enthusiastic about developing them.
So what are your alternatives to really develop a plan that has a reasonable chance of being acted upon and generating results? Consider using the “A3 Planning Process” and “Deming Cycle”.
Let’s start with the Deming Cycle, developed by the guru of quality systems, Dr. W. Edwards Deming in the 1950’s during his work with
Here’s how it works. Begin with the Plan step, where you commit to study and understand your company’s current state (warts and all) and commit to understand it from as many perspectives as possible using quantitative metrics. If you’ve been following my column during the last month, I suggest you use the knowledge you’ve developed about Alignment, your company’s long-term Vision and the most immediate Priorities you have for 2009 to develop your plan.
Now that you have a simple plan, it’s time to Do, or execute the plan. This means putting the plan into action as quickly as possible, with a very clear understanding of Who is responsible for each task and what resources they need to get the job done.
Probably the most important step in this process is the Check step, and is typically where many plans fall apart. On a regular basis, ideally monthly or even weekly to start, you need to realistically monitor your progress and measure the effects of your actions against the plan. Determine what is working and what is not, what has changed in terms of the plan versus the objectives or goals of the plan.
Act then refers to adjusting the plan based on what has happened so far. This is a critical and a largely under appreciated aspect of effective planning because for a plan to be effective it must be flexible and live in the same world you do. The goal is to develop and implement a plan that produces the results you need to achieve as a business, not to blindly follow a plan come hell or high water.
So what is so unique about the Deming Cycle? The number one uniqueness is that it is continuous, in other word it never ends if you are doing it right, as
Next week we’ll discuss the A3 Planning Process to finalize your plan for 2009.
Charlie Alter owns Bentbrook Advisors LLC based in Sylvania,