To Be Effective, the Planning Process Must Be Constant

A reliable way to accomplish business success is to implement and operate a planning process. Many business owners do implement a planning process and begin to use it, but fail to realize the benefits because the process is intermittent. Then, once the process is perceived as ineffectual, it is abandoned. It is not enough to implement a planning process, that process must be a constant process.

Traditionally, businesses have gone to considerable effort to develop strategic planning and then implement this planning through operational planning and actions taken to achieve strategic goals. But the chasms between strategic, operational, and revision are wide, and most businesses fail to bridge them. With a dynamic business plan, a plan whose format communicates the strategic, operational, and revision aspects, the gap between strategic and operational aspects of planning can be bridged. Sadly, in many situations where planning is perceived to have failed to achieve results, it is not the quality of the planning but the format of the plan that has caused ineffective results.

Consider the case where a strategic plan has been created after a retreat involving the policy-making group. The planning decisions are made by following a decision-making policy utilizing group decision-making. The culture of the business mandates that when a decision is to be made, there is a group involved including those with expertise, those with experience, those who will be asked to perform, and those who own. We will assume that this best practices decision-making is used for all planning decisions made, including those of operations and review. After the retreat, the strategic plan resides in a three-ring notebook, honored by several PowerPoint explanations of its perceptions and goals. The operations group is presented with the PowerPoint presentations and reviews the strategic plan notebook, then formulating actions to meet the goals. After actions are taken, the results are monitored. Yet this ostensibly excellent planning process is doomed. There are vital communication links that will not be made and the plan will not be effective over a period of time.

In this case there are the following communication links: from the strategic group that set the goals to the operations group who determine how to accomplish the goals, from results of actions taken by an audit group that monitors and documents those results to the operations group, and then sending the results back to the strategic group for a revision of the goals. There are three critical communication links that must work for planning to be continual. While we have all the elements of an excellent planning process, the process does not work because the communication links will not be made.

Even with all elements of the planning process in place, the process can be ineffectual if the process is not constant. If the policy group does not see the results of the actions taken to meet goals or if the production personnel do not know what goals are in place, the process will not be continually revised with the revisions communicated to all elements of the planning process. When the process is ineffective, it will be abandoned instead of corrected. With a dynamic plan format, the plan goals, actions, results, and revisions are communicated to all elements of the planning process.