Why on earth should we spend so much time and money planning for the future, when everyone knows that Murphy’s Law will come and stuff everything up! So why not give it up and work on a more empirical and creative method!
Well, the outcome is a little more realistic if we take the time to plan properly, and there are real benefits to planning.
First, it gives the organisation a clear sense of direction. When everybody knows where they are going it allows for coordination of tasks; It encourages team work and gives a sense of cohesion. Secondly it can actually reduce the effect of change. By forcing managers to look ahead and anticipate possible alterations in the market, planned responses to anticipated changes should reduce the effects of Murphy’s Law. Trischel’s Law states “That if it can go wrong, it should be planned for” Having a definite plan of action to address anticipated problems reduces uncertainty and fosters an attitude of confidence.
Thirdly well researched planning reduces the possibility of duplication of tasks. Good planning should uncover those areas where overlapping and wasteful activities exist allowing inefficient work practices to be streamlined.
Finally, planning will establish not only objectives but also the standards to be achieved. These in turn form the basis for the monitoring process. We need to be completely sure of what it is we are aiming to achieve, only then can we determine when we have achieved it.
Recently there has been some questioning of the perception that good planning always precedes good performance. But there is significant evidence from studies to come to some general conclusions.
First ~ good formal business planning is generally associated with increased profits and similar financial gains. Secondly ~ it is the quality of the planning plus the positive implementation of those plans which contributes to the improved performance. Even the best plans imperfectly implemented will not produce the desired outcome.
Does planning have to improve performance to be considered successful? In some organisations where time and money has been spent in planning which has not resulted in better performance; the tendency has been to downgrade the importance of formal planning. During one TNA being conducted with a major corporation I was told that “most planning is a waste of time as it usually doesn’t deliver the goods.” But I believe that there are benefits in organisational planning even if the desired results are not achieved.
The act of planning will require management to seriously consider important questions about where it really wants to go, and how they are going to get there, but where planning usually fails is in the implementation. Where we want to go is an easier question to answer than how are we going to get there. Having a definite plan for the direction of the organisation can also achieve flexibility as long as we know the difference between directional and specific plans ~ but that’s another subject!
This article is taken from the Leadership and Management series of seminars, and you can log onto http://www.trischel.com.au/ to find out more, or register for our mailing list here.
Michele @ Trischel