Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Organizational and Strategic Planning

Q. In management today, there is significant emphasis on organizational planning and in particular strategic planning. Do you see these in operation around where you work? What might you think your managers have done or could do better to develop your organization's planning process

A. Planning and organization of any kind only have value to the extent that people respect and conform to the structures and processes that result. There appear to be a number of conditions necessary:

1. There is sufficient participation (granularity) in the planing and organization to build a general sense of ownership.

Before today's IT, the integration challenges were substantial. Now it is just about possible for everyone to own organizational/career and strategic plans that are consistent with, and part of the creation process for, department, project, progam and enterprise plans.

2. The planning processes are an integral part of the day-to-day business of the organization - implementation/execution.

Again IT makes possible very short planning cycles which, when combined with almost instant feedback, permit plans to come alive, with rapid response to changing conditions. The difference between strategic and tactical plans is blurring!

3. Responsive, responsible leadership.

The best contrary example is in Iraq. Without flexible, adaptable leadership at all levels, the best IT in the world is reduced to metal boxes and wires. Without a shared vision and a spirit of collaboration, planning becomes a discouraging ritual.

4. Planning is one side of a coin called entrepreneurship. The other side of the coin is innovation.

Plans and their implementation, have short term value in conditions of rapid change. Innovation is improvisational and antithetical to planning, which is procedural. (Google acknowledges a similar distinction by permitting each employee a day each week to pursue projects of their own determination.) Innovative energies need to be nurtured and incorporated in the day-to-day just as they are in the well tested practices of continuous improvement.

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