Planning is Not Enough

January 10, 2012 by Wally Bock

The folks at Fast Company have challenged you with a post titled “At the Start of a New Year, What’s Your People Plan?” Here’s the opening paragraph.

“The start of a New Year is always a great time to think about the future. Do you have a plan for recruiting, training, and developing employees? Have you defined your company culture and created a plan for implementation? If so, you are ahead of the game–and you are following a path that successful organizations like Apple, Amazon.com, and Disney have blazed.”

Just planning won’t do the trick, though. The test of any plan isn’t whether you’re high-fiving each other on the way out of the off-site. The test of a plan is whether it produces the results you want. Here are four questions to test whether your plan has any chance of being good.

Do you know what you want? Before you get to firing off “people plans,” it’s a good idea to make sure that you know overall company objectives. If you don’t do that, you could create a plan that delivers the wrong results.

Have you done your homework? It’s tempting to jump right to the planning part, after all that’s the fun. Resist that temptation. Great business plans of all kinds are based on hard-headed analysis of the market and the general business climate. Anyone can plan. Good plans demand homework.

Are you specific about responsibility? The way you get from the plan to results is through responsibility. What important things must be done for your plan to succeed? Who’s responsible for doing them?

Is there a regular system for review? Let me modify a famous von Moltke quote to say that “no plan survives contact with reality.” Parts of your plan will not work. Even more parts will not work exactly the way you thought they would. Others will not work all the time. Without a system to review results and modify the plan, all you’ve got is a forecast.

I’m with Fast Company on the need for planning. But this year, let’s do it right. Let’s create plans that deliver results.

Special thanks to Stephen Lynch at RESULTS.com for sharpening my thinking on these issues.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Talent Management

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