Someone once said to me that companies around here do not spend enough time planning. The speaker bemoaned the fact that in their organisation whenever there is an upgrade of the computer system, it was completed around the end of the calendar year.
When asked why this was such a bad time the response was, this was the busiest period of the year for most organisations and if the planning activity was executed efficiently, another time period would have been chosen. Others joined in the conversation and added to this mantra. The article this week is about planning and how it contributes to business success.
Firstly, let me provide a justification for planning as suggested by some management specialists. According to them, planning is an activity that a manager engages in when he/she wants to achieve a particular goal.
In addition, during the planning stages a manager is expected to first define what the plan is, then develop some strategies for attaining and incorporating and bringing together these activities.
According to these management specialists planning is the premiere function of management. One can say that planning is the “what and how” of a given workplace activity (Robbins and Coulter, 2007).
We must conclude from the above information that in order for a company to accomplish objectives, management must first determine the business strategy and the work activities involved. We may now ask the question, does this really occur.
Research has shown that organisations that utilise planning as part of their decision making tools have achieved better financial results than companies that didn’t. It is also reported that these companies adapt better to rapid changes in the business environment which contributed to corporate growth and competitive advantage (DuBrin, 2006).
Research on the World Wide Web (http//www) revealed that PWC’s Jason Daniels suggests that businesses should first evaluate past performance and then correct any discrepancies before going forward. Daniels further proposed that plans should be adaptable to changes in the business environment.
In other words, Daniels is suggesting that companies should not use plans as a “road block” but as a “road map” that provides information about the different routes that can be used to reach their destination, not only show the mountain range.
He further posited that in order to cope with the ever changing dynamic business environment companies must develop plans that are flexible enough to meet the needs of the market (http://www.pwc.com.au/about-us/flood-support/assets/Importance-Of-Business-Planning.pdf).
What is important to note here is that managers should not use plans as “blinders that block the peripheral vision” but incorporate planning into the control function and use plans to assist in evaluating and measuring performance against the company’s vision (DuBrin, 2006).
Now let us get closer to home. With the ‘ad hoc’ behaviour of some firms here in our island as referred to in the opening vignette one wonders if planning takes place in some business organisations. Some observational research has revealed that some firms in our country do not have a mission statement nor are their employees aware of the vision of the company.
In order to maintain competitive advantage managers must continually scan the business environment to learn from some of the best business models. For instance, one of our most successful business model’s mission statement is so specific in nature one cannot help but realise their focus, mission and vision since they are prepared to ” move the earth to please” as planned.
Finally, managers must realise that planning should not be static nor complex, but must be devised to provide them with room to explore new territory and capitalise on novel opportunities. They should also use planning as a tool to update the business model in order to provide the spontaneity that is necessary for success (DuBrin, 2006).
Given the forgoing, changes and up-dates to systems that create discomfort to employees and customers alike during the busy period would not occur if comprehensive planning had taken place. Until next time…
* Daren Greaves is a Psychology and Management Consultant