Welcome to Plan-Perform-Score! These Insight Bites focus on ideas, thoughts, and tools to alter perspective and improve performance.
It's 2009: How's Your Planning Coming?
While you've been wishing good riddance to 2008 along with a few choice expletives, 2009 has begun in earnest.If you have not already done so, now is the time to prepare for the ride.
The planning process can be exhilarating, frustrating, enlightening, demanding and a host of other descriptive adjectives. Here's a few do’s and don’ts that might help you better navigate the road ahead.
Some Planning Do’s:
It’s the process that counts! Think verb rather than noun. Bringing your team together, fostering interaction, and forming a climate of mutual interdependence and commitment are the real achievements. The final document is not as important as the process that gets you there.
Do trust your instincts. You have lived and breathed what your company is all about. Your plan has to feel right in your gut. Contemplative logic and passionate emotion are good tools. Use them both.
Keep the emphasis on communication. Your planning is the linkage between your future, the team that will take you there and the other stakeholders in your enterprise. It’s the glue that binds it all together and drives performance. Communication is the oxygen for your organization’s future.
Focus on EXECUTION. Remember, results are what count. The best plan in the world is worthless if it can’t be executed. Unfortunately, they don’t give Pulitzer Prizes for business plans. An executable plan on a napkin is a preferable alternative to an elaborate document that gathers dust.
Keep it flexible, adaptive and evolving. As Yogi Berra said, “the future ain’t what it used to be”. Your planning should be an ongoing living process that can adapt and change as competitive, technological and social conditions evolve. Keep it dynamic not static.
Stretch. Challenge your organization to extraordinary achievement. Your plan should inspire, motivate and paint a compelling vision for performance. It should keep everyone’s juices flowing.
Expect unintended consequences. There’s an old English Proverb that states “every path has its puddle”. Regardless of your collective wisdom, there will be unforeseen ramifications, pro and con. Acknowledge this as part of the planning process.
Enjoy the process. What a wonderful opportunity to bring together the people you admire to form a compelling future together. Getting a lot done and having a lot of fun. Go for it.
Some Planning Don’ts:
Don’t delegate responsibility (embrace it).This is one management project you can’t delegate away. As CEO, you have to embrace and champion the process. Leadership goes with the position. Rise to the occasion.
Don’t get caught in the terminology trap. Planning terminology (vision, mission, strategy, tactics, performance metrics, etc.) can murk things up. It should help your team communicate not hinder them. The challenge is to keep the process understandable to all. It’s not important what you call it as long as it drives team performance.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Keep it simple. If it seems too complex, then back off. Try to rephrase and simplify the process. A plan doesn’t have to read like “War and Peace” to be effective.
Don’t look for the perfect plan. Perfection is for the next life. As Patton’s’ law expresses it, “a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”.
Don’t deny the facts. Reality can be harsh, but the sooner you accept it, the sooner it can be addressed. There is a fine line between rationalizing failure and denial of reality. The challenge is to know the difference.
Don’t get trapped by your plan. The purpose of the plan is to guide and drive performance. If it becomes unrealistic don’t continue to follow a bad road map. Change it.
Don’t do it if you’re not going to use it. Be committed to the process. Your passion must be overwhelming if it’s to be effective. You have the opportunity to develop a culture of performance. Don’t go through the motions if it won’t make a difference.
Quote & Note
"A recent government publication on the marketing of cabbage contains, according to one report, 26,971 words. It is noteworthy in this regard that the Gettysburg Address contains a mere 279 words while the Lord's Prayer comprises but 67." -Norman Augustine
This reminds me of a brief Sunday sermon to a congregation in a church without the benefit of air conditioning on an exceptionally hot and muggy morning. The Pastors' remarks are short and sweet: "If you think it's hot now, just wait."
It does not have to be long to be effective.
First Law of Laboratory Work:
Hot glass looks exactly the same as cold glass.
Back in the 70's I was taking a Dale Carnegie course that was 4 hours one night per week and extended over several months. Each night after the course a few of my companions and I would migrate to a great jazz club in downtown Pittsburgh for music, a few libations and some wonderful sirloin tips and mushrooms. After the last night of the course, we were all giddy with excitement and anxious to partake of our well earned food and beverages. One of our crack team of Dale Carnegie graduates noticed we could get to the jazz club sooner if we cut through a pre-OSHA construction site. In my haste for a brew I ran in advance of my fellow revelers seeing only a large horizontal pipe in my way. No problem since I could simply use my hand to guide my jump over the obstacle. But during my leap I became painfully aware that I was putting my entire body weight on a "live steam pipe." Opps, I hadn't considered that. That evening I had two frosted beer mugs, one for each hand as I reflected on my dim-witted leap of faith.
The lesson here is being careful of your assumptions because things may not be what you think. Take some time to assess a situation before you dive into it. A little bit of prudence might leave you with a cooler hand.
Prior Plan-Perform-Score (PPS) Article Published
We are pleased that the feature article of this issue of PPS "How's Your Planning Coming for 2009?" has been published in the December 2008 issue of The e-FORUM, the monthly e-newsletter of Renaissance Executive Forums. Renaissance is a national CEO peer group resource for corporate leaders committed to superior performance and organizational development. You can access the article at: http://www.executiveforums.com/enews/newsdetail.asp?ID=392
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