Essentials of Planning
June 21, 2007
Essentials of Planning By Rey Misoles
“Good things only happen when planned; bad things happen on their own.” – Philip Crosby
A newly promoted manager once came into my office for an advice; “How do I begin?” was his main concern. Very briefly, my reply was, “Sit down, think.” It’s obvious from his reaction that it was not the answer he expected. I fully understand, because once upon a time I was in his shoes . . . Thinking is the most difficult thing a man could ever do. In fact, lots of leaders today despise those who stay in their offices dong mental work – most often misconstrued as “daydreaming. ” Yet planning requires a lot of thinking, long and concentrated thinking . . . and PLANNING is first in the basics of management functions.
PLANNING . . . . . . is basically a thinking process of trying to know more about the future and then plotting a course of action to take advantage of opportunities and to lessen problems. It is: – the process a manager follows to think through beforehand; what he wants to accomplish and how he will do it; – the work a manager performs to predetermine a course of action to be followed, which – is the basis for successful management action. How important is planning? Cruising at high altitudes, the pilot spoke; “This is your captain speaking. I have two announcements, one good and the other bad. The good one first, we are traveling faster than the speed of light.” (Passengers’ applause.) “Now the bad new, we are lost.” If you’re one of the passengers, how would you feel? The story may not be true, but it depicts a realistic picture of how lack of planning affects your objectives. Good planning, on the other hand, ensures success: – If we know where we are going, we are much more likely to get there. – Others working with us will be much more effective and interested. – When we work to a plan, each person can fit his part of the action neatly into place, and can schedule and unify his work so he can constantly keep in mind his contribution to the overall results. – Planning enables us to make most effective and economical use of manpower, equipment, facilities and money. – When he plans, the manager is anticipating future opportunities, problems and obstacles. – Good planning provides a competitive advantage to the company. How do we plan? Somebody once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” A major element in the process of planning is the target, goal, objective or any other name you want to call it. That element is what you should aim for – your destination. It could be a quota, schedule, deadline, or an ambition you want to achieve. As a leader, however, you are privileged to have so many of these – some small and seemingly irrelevant, while others look big and insurmountable. This time you need the tool to define what you really want to achieve – and I call it SMART.
S – is your goal specific? Set goals one at a time. “Increase production output and quality” just wouldn’t do. Make a plan to “increase production output,” and another plan to “improve quality.” Yes, you can work on both objectives at the same time, as long as they are both well-planned at the start.
M – is your goal measurable? “To increase sales” is too vague a statement. I would rather “increase sales by 15% by end of third quarter” and see how it can be done. A – is your goal attainable? A goal that’s too high kills the spirit; make it too low and it destroys enthusiasm. It should be short enough to be interesting, but long enough to cover the essentials. I’m not implying something here, it’s just your mind playing tricks on you!
R – is your goal relevant? As leaders, you should be facing a myriad of goals and objectives. To be effective, one should be keen in setting priorities – otherwise, you may be doing a lot, for less.
T – is your goal timebound? To increase sales by 15% without specified time-frame could take your forever, or perhaps never. Without time agreement, there is no commitment. One day in my cubicle at my client’s office, I was sitting in front of the pc doing some mental work – planning strategies to address a major concern. As practiced, I close my eyes and went into deep meditative thinking, visualizing scenarios . . . “Plop!” I was suddenly brought back when my client spoke, with a smile, “Can we discuss some urgent concern, if you’re not busy?” “Sorry to interrupt your rest,” he added. And I told him, “Don’t worry, I’m thinking while sleeping.” – – –
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Rey Misoles is CEO and Managing Director of MaP Consulting Group, a consulting and training outfit for developing managerial competence.
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