Do you enjoy putting jigsaw puzzles together?
What is your approach?
- Do you start with the outside border pieces to frame the puzzle?
- Do you assemble pieces by colour?
- Do you dive in, starting with a few pieces that appear to go together based on colour and shape?
Developing a strategic plan is similar to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The organizational high-level plan is like the border or framework for the plan. Maybe you like to dive in, begin working on a project like putting together a few pieces of the puzzle without knowing how it fits with other projects. Just as want to complete the puzzle with all the pieces in place, you want your organizational plan to have all the pieces to form a full and integrated plan for all levels of your organization.
Planning is essential to SUCCESS
At this time every year, millions of people the world over, make plans for the New Year. Their plans may not be as grand as political leaders such as: Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, John F. Kennedy and his plan to land a man on the Moon in the next 10 years, or as expansive as the 25 year plan of the Cree Nation of Nemaska to create a new modern community.
Whether success is measured by rebuilding a nation, landing on the moon, simply giving up a bad habit, gaining new knowledge or whatever else you set out to achieve, most people would agree that having goals and some kind of plan is not just a good thing to have, but an essential part of any desire to succeed.
In spite of numerous reports about the results of planning, it’s easy to dismiss the planning process and go with the flow, wait to see what happens and hope for the best. Robert Heinlein summed it up well:
“In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it”.
If you want to achieve anything in life – from small changes in habit to major life achievements – you first need to have some kind of plan.
Organizations exist to achieve results or outcomes. Achieving results requires a clear focus and plan for the organization that is appropriately structured to get work done by each department and by each level.
According to the dictionary planning is the intention to do something and working out how to do something.
Plan = Intention and System to achieve an objective (P = I & S)
Why do organizational planning?
Many organizations believe they should have a plan and goals, but often they don’t understand the underlying dynamics of why a plan is important. For some, having an organizational plan is ‘an end in itself.‘ It’s good to say you have a mission, vision and goals but if you don’t really know why these and a 3-5 year plan is important what’s the point? An organizational plan is the foundation for success as it sets direction for the organization.
“An organization is like a man upstream, it must go ahead or it will go backwards.”
Going with the flow and not having a plan puts an organization at risk, leaving it reactive, unprepared to address threats or to seize opportunities. “Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing and where you are going,” Warren Buffet.
Departmental planning is essential to align your departments and create multi year plans
Some organizations jump from having a broad mission and vision to annual planning. Managers are given a directive to create annual plans and budgets, which is a step in the right direction.
However, by itself an organizational plan does not achieve results, often developing SPOTS – ‘strategic plan on top shelf’. To realize results, an organizational plan must be operationalized at the department level and carried out day to day by focused employee efforts.
Operationalizing the organizational plan requires a department to consider what it contributes to the organization’s mission and vision, goals and objectives and then review/ refresh the department’s mission, set measurable targets for what it intends to achieve, develop a set of strategic action initiatives for what it will do as department to achieve them and organize them into a multi year plan.
When annual planning is done in a vacuum without longer term thinking at the organizational and departmental levels objective setting typically results in ‘more of the same, with limited or no improvement or innovation. .
Departmental planning is essential to engage the ‘hearts and minds’ of employees so they understand how the work of the department contributes to the organization’s mission, vision, goals and objectives. Furthermore, it allows employees to consider what they contribute to the organization and the department.
Just as many communities lose millions of dollars to economic leakage each year, ‘human leakage’ is extremely costly. Human leakage results in lost productivity, staff who are not available to respond to members, slow services, project delays, over runs, as well as under-utilized and wasted human potential, etc.
Employee Objective Setting and Work Planning to implement departmental priorities and key job description responsibilities
Employee objective setting and work planning allows employees to focus on what they will contribute to the departmental plan and helps to keep their attention on the core responsibilities of their job description in the year ahead.
Creating your organizational planning puzzle
We have explored the various planning puzzle pieces. The organizational plan is like the border of the puzzle, framing it. Departmental planning, operationalizes it, which is like organizing or grouping similar colours. Annual planning is similar to finding/putting related shapes together and putting the sections of the puzzle in place is similar to employee objective setting and work planning.
Raven’s Results Certainty System™ is a process that integrates planning across all functions and levels of your entire organization. Our process helps you to focus and align your organization from top to bottom to achieve your goals and objectives.
Which pieces of the organizational puzzle do you have? Need?
Does your organization have an up-to-date strategic plan for the next 3-5 years?
- Do your departments have 3-year plans linked to the organizational plan?
- Are your annual plans based on departmental 3 year plans to move you forward?
- Do your employees set objectives and work plans to realize them departmental annual priorities?
- Is your organization aligned from top to bottom and across all levels?