Planning Principles Then and Now

While attending IMD (an international management development program in Lausanne, Switzerland) over 20 years ago, I studied a book by Dean Derek Able, titled Strategic Market Planning: Problems and Analytical Approaches.Upon recently re-reading the book, I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of timeless insights. Here is a refresher course in 10 principles of planning success (with my comments).

1. Get the support of senior management: Without the support and commitment of the CEO,President and/or Owner, planning will not work. Don’t ever start if the company leader is not a part 
     of the solution.

2. Educate those who will be involved in planning: There are two parts to this: making everyone involved familiar with the planning process, and setting realistic goals for the organization. The 
    learning process does not end with a plan—it is a continuous process over the long term. 

3. Ensure that all managers are actively involved in planning: Engaging your leadership team in the planning process creates buy-in and commitment. It’s their plan, so they will welcome             accountability for its success.

4. Make heavy, but appropriate use of analysis: Don’t get bogged down by too much data and analysis. Rather, identify information gaps as you go, and fill them as needed. 

5. Keep planning simple, and add complexity when the organization is ready for it: Not all organizations are the same. Allow your people to become familiar and comfortable with the planning    process over the long term.

6. Make creation of a good plan the objective, rather than simply planning: Don’t get so wrapped up in the process that you forget about the result you want: a great plan.

7. Make the reward-punishment system work in support of planning: Make people responsible and accountable to execute the plan, and be sure there are positive and negative consequences to deal with performance. 

8. Tailor the planning approach to the characteristics of key people: Customize the planning process and plan to the organization’s capabilities and capacity to increase the odds of success.

9. Allow sufficient time for planning: Successful operating plans are a result of sound strategic thinking. Time invested in planning will pay dividends over the long term.

10. Tie planning to year round decision-making: Monthly, quarterly and annual strategy reviews will provide  a forum to deal with issues and  opportunities as they arise.


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