Posted by Bill Dann

The planning controversy

Strategic planning remains a subject of much controversy in management literature. Probably the best treatise on this is Henry Mintzberg’s The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning. Most experts, including Mintzberg, agree that planning is a must, but they question the effectiveness and execution of many planning systems.

The track record

Our experience with hundreds of our clients’ plans supports this mixed record. Virtually all clients experience improvement in reaching intended targets, but on average, they reach only 50 to 70 percent of their intended outcomes. With each successive year of using the system, they improve, as would be the case with the repetitive use of almost any system. From this experience, we know there are some definable factors involved in getting a higher completion rate.

A critical factor: Most plans ignore personal planning

First, understand that there are four levels in any sound strategic plan (see diagram below).

  1. Defining your vision for the organization
  2. Defining the strategic agenda or list of projects to move the organization toward the vision
  3. Project Planning for each project on that agenda, i.e. defining the series of outcomes to accomplish each project
  4. Personal planning, which supports the execution of the outcomes and ultimately of the strategic plan.

It is this last element — personal planning — that most systems don’t include.

Personal planning happens when an individual assigned responsibility for an outcome develops an individual plan to complete that work.

personal-plan

Three reasons for personal planning

There are three major reasons for personal planning:

  1. First, personal planning is vital because experience shows us that, within 60 to 90 days after completion of the plan, those responsible for outcomes won’t recall what they are supposed to produce. They will look at the oftentimes cryptic language of the plan itself, and say to themselves, “What in the world was that?” We have seen this countless times.Having the people responsible for the plan define, in their own terms, what they understand the outcome to be is vital to overcoming this blind spot. Further, being sure there is agreement between the CEO and the person responsible for an outcome is the key to getting started effectively.
  2. Second, strategic plans define how we are going to be different in the future. The elements might include more productivity, more sales, higher quality, better service, better consistency, more profitability, and so forth. But, most managers are overwhelmed with managing the work under existing methods and strategies and without a personal plan in place, find little time for creating a new way of doing business. If left to their own devices, the day-to-day work will get priority and the strategic projects will go unattended.Requiring a personal plan of each individual — for each outcome — brings reality to what it will take to get the job done, and keeps that reality front of-mind. It forces each individual to declare how they are going to achieve what they have committed to achieve.
  3. Third, the tighter the accountability, the better the performance. Week-by-week accountability in the personal plans of each person responsible for an outcome, enables the project manager or CEO to understand, very early on, that trouble could be looming.

Vision Navigation® includes complete personal planning

Vision Navigation®, the strategic planning system from Professional Growth Systems, recognizes the vital role that personal planning plays in the health of your company. So personal planning is a vital part of the system. Vision Navigation® personal planning includes:

  • Clarification of each outcome of a project (identifying exactly what will be accomplished or produced as the result of each outcome).
  • Sequencing of steps to complete each outcome (identifying the order or sequence of the steps needed to reach the outcome).

Deadlines for each of these steps are not assigned. Rather, the overall project or plan manager assesses the progress being made during bi-weekly meetings with the leadership team. As each responsible person reports on progress, the project or plan manager determines whether the outcomes and therefore the project is on track.

How Vision Navigation® personal plans work for you

Bi-weekly accountability sessions serve to monitor progress on the strategic plan. They also present opportunities for problem-solving. During these sessions, the CEO or project manager can refer to the personal plans for each outcome, as he listens to project reports. Using the reference, the CEO or project manager can decide whether or not the outcome is on track and on schedule. Armed with that information, the CEO or project manager can either congratulate the responsible person or take whatever steps are necessary to get the project back on track.

Reach 90 to 95 percent of your personal outcomes (instead of 50 to 70 percent)

If personal planning is missing from your planning system, add this element and you will dramatically increase your strategic plan completion rate. Call us at (877) 276-4414, if you have any questions or would like help getting started.