Have a plan. Work the plan

School started again this week in New Zealand. We are into the last term and, for two of our girls, that signals the last term of intermediate. The arrival of the fourth term has been accompanied by some wild spring weather. It is all part of the season. Time moves forward – unrelenting and seemingly not caring at all about the day to day activities that make up our lives. A poem from my last year in primary school encapsulates this well:

“The moving finger writes, and having writ writes on, and all thy piety and wit cannot lure it back half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.” - The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

How has your year been? Are you on track with your goals? (Did you even set goals?)

Goal setting is an interesting concept – it is so important, and yet to be effective we need a plan to follow through and act on it. Plans break down our goal into action steps and timelines. As kids look to their last term this year and many businesses look to the last quarter for this year, I thought I would offer some reflections on effective planning.

Do you have clear business goals? Any plan exists to help you achieve an outcome. Are you still aiming for the same goal? When you set your goals for the year, did you then write up a business plan to ensure this goal was reached? Do all your team members know the overarching goal, and is it inspiring and motivating? Do your team members know their role in the plan? A unifying vision inspires, motivates and drives a team. When a vision is inspiring enough it enables and empowers team members. When roles are clearly understood, team members can take ownership for their part in the plan.

Inspired teams act faster, and when they are empowered to do what they know is best you are on track to a winning team.

Deming’s famous PDCA cycle (Plan, Check, Do, Act) encourages teams to work together focusing on taking action, receiving feedback, altering as necessary and moving forward more intelligently. Do you have meaningful team meetings? How often do you review your plans? Do you review the actual actions and forward traction or just the plans – and therefore ensure that actual progress is measured.

What tools do you use to ensure your plan is solid and has considered all factors? SWOT and PESTEL analysis are popular and when further explored using ‘SO What Analysis’ can ensure plans are robust. Have you extrapolated your business plan through to each department? Do you have a marketing plan and strategy? What about an HR plan, a Logistics and operations plan, a financial budget? Plans are roadmaps and as each section works together there also needs to be the flexibility to change as required. A sudden core commodity price increase or decrease can decimate the best-laid plans.

How will the outcomes of the American elections affect you, your suppliers and customers? An agile team meets often and reviews progress against plan and considers current conditions. Look internally as well as externally. Have you considered developing your people this coming year? Creating personal development plans allows you to grow your people as you grow your organisation.

As you review your plans for the last quarter – plan to go all out. Finish in style. Remember also to review and look ahead. One of my favourite time management tips is to plan the night before that which must be done the next day and the same principle applies in planning a week, month and year ahead. Take time out to review your plans and plan ahead. If you would like your planning to be facilitated and/or challenged do get in touch.

All the best with your planning!