Planning in an uncertain world

‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’ but in these times when even tomorrow seems uncertain how much time should we dedicate to planning?

When the only certainty is uncertainty we also need to create our own personal plan of action to improve our productivity and resilience.

September is often a key planning time for companies and for us as individuals but how do we plan under the ‘new normal’ and make the most efficient use of our time?

People, performance, profit

Some of the old rules do still apply. Whatever your plans, getting your people engaged, motivated and inspired will undoubtedly impact on how effectively you achieve them. Being clear on your objectives, key results and creating visible measurement will drive progress. And mastering both of these, up and down your organisation, will mean improved financial returns are a far more likely outcome.

 

Personal ballasts

Implementing our plans undoubtedly will involve others but have we got our own personal ballasts to weather the storm and stay afloat in the calmer waters. Our own health and wellbeing is vital if we are going to positively impact those around us. What is your daily routine? Have you the support to be the best leader you can be? Sometimes it is the most simple things that can give us the resilience for the challenges ahead.

What did you learn about yourself over the last six months that can now be used to make you a better leader or manager? Perhaps it was better delegated decision making and trusting others to deliver?

 

Business ballasts – ‘limiting the uncertainty’

Pivot from your why and don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Probably most of what you were doing pre-covid 19 was right so take the learning from the diversion but don’t change the destination. Retain the new digital processes, stay aware of you customers’ changing needs, create a more blended working system for your team but stay true to your vision, purpose and values. These are the still the life vests to hang onto!

 

Strategic themes

Some high level strategic themes can be the anchors for other departmental objectives and personal activity. Challenge yourself and your team to limit these to only three or four and then identify the associated objectives, tasks and activity. Digitisation is crucial but breaking this down across the business and putting in simple steps to achieve it with clear accountability and measures to monitor progress will ensure it becomes a reality.

 

‘Test and learn’

The need for ‘test and learn’ methodology will be vital as the picture is constantly evolving. Make time for communication for both your internal and external customers. In a rapidly changing landscape short term planning is a necessity with frequent updates so everyone stays on track in spite of the inevitable twists and turns. However still keep one eye on those longer term strategic aims – keep them visible

 

Ruthless Prioritisation

Never have we had the potential to be so distracted. Social media is a major culprit but change and uncertainty can impact your own effectiveness as well as that of your organisation. The blurring of the lines between home and work is an added dimension that many are struggling with. Having a plan is only the start so here are some tips that will help you deliver it.

  1. Try the ‘power of three.’ Three key tasks per day and three key objectives per week.
  2. Keep your overall goals highly visible so you can sense check against your activity
  3. If it takes less than a minute to do it then just do it!
  4. Ask yourself whether you truly need to attend that meeting
  5. Create a culture where people are allowed to say no, including you
  6. Ask whether a task will help you achieve defined objectives or your strategic themes?
  7. Compartmentalise your day or week according to your own bio rhythms
  8. Delegate decision making – the pandemic has proved it can work
  9. Ask yourself where you add the most value and focus your time on it
  10. Build in personal reflection to your weekly routine

 

Have a compass

How do you know you’re winning? Whatever the tool you use ensure you have a simple method of tracking progress of activity against certain business objectives that everyone can understand, access and use. In this information age ensure you are then asking the right questions to collect the right data to create a visibility of performance that is truly moving the dial towards achieving your business goals and vision.