Its the time of year when many organizations are into the planning process for the next fiscal year. As I look at many different planning processes, I find that most companies are not pleased with the process and do not feel they achieve the results they expect for the time invested. From my experience, the key lies in designing and delivering a robust planning process that maximizes innovation, speed, decision-making effectiveness, and accountability.
Here are several recommendations on executing an effective planning process
Use a condensed, focused process led by a facilitator.
With the right planning and design, the best tools, and expert facilitation, a comprehensive and innovative plan can be developed in a much shorter time frame then typically expected (30% to 50% less time). The time spent in planning discussions should be fast-paced, inclusive, and consensus building. The design of the process and the techniques used to lead critical interactions must be spot-on.
Involve More Than The Senior Team
A study of innovation by IBM Global Services showed that outperforming, high revenue growth companies' most significant source of innovative ideas were (in order) employees, business partners, customers, consultants, and competitors. (Internal R & D and sales were further down the list.) The key for planning? - include input from a diverse range of sources, particularly those not normally involved in business decisions. Both high potential and high professional (deep market and deep technical knowledge) employees can make a significant contribution to strategy development.
Protect the Plan
No plan is perfect. No forecast is perfect. Every contingency can never be completely addressed. However, the right people and process can identify the potential threats to a plan, assess their likelihood and impact, and develop specific actions based on how likely the threats can be detected. The same should be developed for the upside. What could potentially cause us to be above Plan and, if so, what can we do to try to capitalize on it?
Assure that the organization is capable
Do you have a team that has the capability to handle strategic and planning task. s If you are unsure , this needs to be assessed and addressed before any planning begins. Once the strategy is developed, senior leaders must assure that the organization has the capability to handle the demands placed on it by the strategy.