Start With Limits
If you want to achieve something, start with parameters that set the scope and size of your plan. For example, if you chose five key goals of your organisation for the next year, you could break each goal into no more than five strategies you need to implement to achieve the five goals. Your plan would therefore be limited to five goals and 25 strategies. One of the reasons planning fails is that everything becomes a goal and there are dozens of supporting strategies. Nobody gets around to implementing any of the strategies.
Choose Spectacular Goals
By this I mean don’t write about your core functions because you are already doing those. Plan ways in which you can increase or improve the core functions. If yours is a service focused organisation providing welfare, for example, why would you need
a goal that said, “Provide a timely service to clients?” Isn’t that what you do now? If your service isn’t timely, find out why and focus on the reasons.
Each year you should choose areas of your business that need improvement or perhaps, new areas that will arise. Focus on those so that you see incremental improvements. When you have improved something one year, move on to something else next
In the example above, think about how you could provide a more timely service to your customers. It might be a computer system problem. Say for example you can’t provide a timely service because your computer system can’t process the work fast enough. Your new goal could be: “Upgrade the computer system to speed up delivery of client payments” That’s better than a nebulous statement about providing a timely service.
Use Concise Action Language
Goals and their strategies need to be achievable and measurable. That means that the language you choose needs to reflect that. When you write your plan, keep that in mind. If you owned an aircondtioning company in a regional city of 500,000 people and set yourself a goal of being “The best airconditioning company” in big city, you’d have to ask how you will achieve that and measure it. There would be numerous competitors … how would you know when you were better than them? And what does being better mean? Rather, choose something more concrete.
Focus on how much business or refrigeration units you are selling, or the number of customer complants or the amount of
rework you have to do and you will be on a winner.
Make the Planning Document an Appendix
Plans are usually laid out with a goal written across the top of a page, then tables with headings such as: Strategies (What
we have to do to achieve this goal), How We Will Do It (How we will implement the strategies), When We Will Do It, and Who is
If you need to include additional information about the organisation, the planning process or something else, make the actual plan an Appendix. That way, the plan can be used, changed and monitored without worrying about all the material. Each year
you can update your plan and, if necessary, the preripheral information can stay as is.
Finally, Use the Plan
How many times have you spent two or three days at a planning meeting only to find that when you have produced your plan, it
goes to the Head Office and that’s the last you see or hear of it until the next planning cycle?
If you write a plan, make it a good one and make it central to what you are doing in your firm. Make people responsible for
achieving specific outcomes and include this responsibility in their performance agreement or contract. Make it a topic on
your monthly management meetings and monitor progress. At the end of the planning cycle, highlight how well the firm has
achieved its objectives and plan for the next period.
Planning is an essential management tool which, if used intelligently, can make a difference to the bottom line of most
Copyright 2006 Robin Henry | First published May 2006
Robin Henry is an educator, human resources specialist and Internet entrepreneur. He helps home-based businesses and individuals improve performance by applying smart technology and processes and developing personally. He runs his business Desert Wave Enterprises from his home base at Alice Springs in Central Australia, although at present he is on temporary assignment in the United Arab Emirates.