Thursday, January 29, 2015

Believer, Skeptic or Psychoplanner, Part 2

Part II – Planning Must-Haves

Every step of the plan has a due date - when we say we will get something done in the future, the future rarely happens in our lifetimes. However, when we say we will get it accomplished by 3rd quarter and set milestones for the January, March, May and August, results take place.

Every step of the plan has a single person responsible for its completion – committees rarely get anything done unless the chairperson takes on the responsibility. The same holds true with departments, groups and other work teams; somebody needs to be responsible for shepherding the results. This doesn’t mean they do all the work, but they must hold others to the course.

Plans must be documented and archived – when plans aren’t written and documented they get lost in the shuffle. Employees forget their responsibilities. Later on, disputes arise as to the actual results expected and commitments made.

Plans must be reviewed – any plan without periodic review is a waste of time. Review is easy when the plan is documented and individuals are held accountable for their implementation. Further, in companies ramping up their planning skills, it takes a couple of reviews before employees believe that planning is serious and real.

Not every plan works – some plans just plain doesn’t work. Good managers and their companies take the time to understand what changed, what mistakes were made, and which assumptions proved to be incorrect. This improves future planning.

Don’t confuse lack of execution with a poor plan – many times plans don’t work because somebody failed to follow through on their commitments, mishandled an important step or didn’t have the personal horsepower to drive things forward. Without execution, even the best plans fall short of the mark.

There must be consequences for lack of performance – some people respond to plans in a better way than others. In every company we have dealt with, we have discovered a few who did not take the planning process seriously. Sometimes these poor performers produce a respectable result. In their own mind, their results prove planning is a wasted effort. We believe differently. Periodic review and individual responsibility soon flushes out poor planners. Be prepared to deal with these individuals.

There is no generic best plan – beware of those who tell you their plan is the best. The right plan is based on your company, the skillsets of employees, long term culture and business climate. Your plan must be tailored to your situation. This doesn’t mean you can’t model your plan around a successful plan of another company. Instead, it means your plan must be tailored.

Expect (demand) planning improvement – one of the most rewarding experiences comes years after an active planning process has been put into place. As the team develops planning skills, activities that once took years can be accomplished in months. This accelerates the growth of your business.

Bring in outside help – this may sound just a wee bit self-serving but ask yourself these questions: Does any of this sound like rocket science? Why aren’t we better in our planning? An outside resource helps you anticipate the bumps bruise and roadblocks along the way.

Anticipate pushback - as you begin adding discipline to your planning process expect pushback. The most common phrases heard in the trenches of wholesale distribution sound remarkably close to these. “I’m too busy to plan right now.” “I already have a plan it’s just not designed in a formal way.” And the omnipresent favorite, “Listen, do you want me out selling or sitting in the office planning?”

This isn’t about strategic planning
Let’s not get this confused with some kind of elaborate strategic planning session. This type of activity could best be considered tactical planning. Applying planning to some of the critical aspects of our business to accelerate the flow of results is paramount to success in our world today. Planning helps prioritize important tasks in a world full of distractions.

Next week well get your creative juices flowing with some Planning Topics for Distributors.  Until then, check out our planning tools on Amazon.

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