“The Positive Options process for planning is highly participative. Our recommendation is that all of the key individuals in the business be involved.“
Planning Process Steps
Because of history, the number of past changes and potential strength of responses it is possible people will not talk openly about differences. It is necessary to get the observations that represent how issues and possibilities are seen by all staff. For that reason it is frequently good to individually interview the executive group and a representative sample of people one level below them. This information will provide a base for the operational plan.
Everyone participating in the planning process will be given an outline of things to think about prior to the actual meeting. The major topics on the outline are: components of strategy, mission, values, customers and their needs, capitalizing on company strengths and sustaining competitive advantage.
An operational planning meeting is held involving the executive group and other key staff. The process is highly participatory and has been used in businesses around the world.
The first step will be development of a common, practical and realistic Vision. It answers the question what will the organization look like three to five years from now? This vision becomes the framework through which all other work is accomplished. In order to contribute fully, all staff must be clear about where the company is going.
The second step is examining the roadblocks and obstacles to achieving the vision. Once the vision has been articulated it is important to look at what could keep it from happening. This is where the interview data will be examined. The major obstacles become the basis for the strategies that follow.
The Strategic Directions provide the activities that will resolve the contradictions and move the organization towards the vision. These are key actions that overcome the obstacles and form the basis for systematic actions. Five dimensions are considered when developing strategic directions.
- What is the thrust or focus for future development?
- What is the scope of products and services that will and will not be considered?
- What are the future emphasis or priority and mix for services that fall within that scope?
- What key capabilities are required to make the strategic vision happen?
- What growth and return expectations are implied by this vision?
The Systematic Actions that will be taken are very specific. These are specific, measurable accomplishments that will need to take place to fulfill the strategic directions. A one-year time line is developed, then the most important actions to be taken in the next 90 days are clearly defined.
The implementation timeline assures completion of the action plan. What steps are required to implement the action? How will it get done? Where? With what? By whom? When? People are accountable for specific functions and results and leave the workshop knowing exactly what is expected of them.
Ninety days following the planning session a four hour meeting is held to check progress on the action items. Reports are given, successes celebrated and a new 90 day action plan developed.
This process produces the following results:
- A practical plan that combines perspectives of all of the key players.
- A clear vision and direction for the company.
- A specific plan of actions necessary to achieve the vision.
- Participant understanding of the plan and what they contribute.
- Commitment from key people to carry out the actions.
- Stronger teamwork by the executive and management staff.