Innovation Outcomes Brochure Planning Facilitation _____________________________________________________________________________ Innovation and Enhanced Performance Through Formal Planning
Strategic planning, operations planning, and innovation are inextricably linked. How? All start with visions and all need to be imbedded into key processes and organizational cultures. Although a visioning process is usually key to the important task of determining future needs, it's strategic planning that actually lays the foundation for operations planning--and for organizations to move from current reality to desired future states. Formal planning can also be an excellent way of optimizing strategic alignment and producing the framework for implementation.
We help clients in the area of planning in a number of different ways. Sometimes we're retained to professionally facilitate planning and strategy development in an off-site retreat type of format. And in other situations, we're retained to work one-on-one with clients, coaching them in group process and team facilitation. But regardless of how planning is facilitated, there needs to be strategic alignment between individual, team, and organizational strategies, goals, objectives, and expectations. For those organizations seeking to ensure alignment and desiring to differentiate themselves through innovation, strategic and operations planning need to be regarded as ongoing regimens that continually move organizations from current reality to desired future states. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Strategic Thinking and Planning Instruction
In addition to covering all the critical bases during the strategic planning process, it's critically important for leaders at all levels to think and plan strategically on an ongoing basis. We provide customized training that allows participants to learn about the creative process and about team problem solving methods such as brainstorming, that tap the collective knowledge and multi-functional/multi-cultural perspectives of the team.
In situations where a group of participants may have different experience levels with regard to planning, the facilitator must ensure a level playing field by providing an overview of the mechanics and elements of effective strategic and operations planning. It's important to help participants understand the differences between the two types of planning as well as the value in planning and key elements that comprise planning, such as plan assumptions, critical issues identification, short-term planning, long-term planning, and the importance of internal and external environmental scanning.
To fully leverage customized training, the organization's strategic plan should be reviewed in small group facilitation exercises, with each group being coached on how to respond to internal and external opportunities and threats; building on the strengths of their particular units or divisions; and constructing plans to address and potentially compensate for weaknesses or vulnerabilities. From this, and other group exercises, each group will be able to develop goals, objectives, and action plans that address issues within their units and also those in support of the broader goals and objectives of the organization's strategic and operating plans. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Planning Facilitation and Team Development
A number of our engagements have linked strategic or operations planning with coaching and/or team development initiatives. In these scenarios, we often begin by working with CEOs and COOs, coaching them in group dynamics and team facilitation, but in the majority of engagements that we've taken on, we've been asked to directly facilitate so that all leaders can effectively participate in the planning process.
In these situations, we're able to directly observe the mechanics of an organization's planning process and witness team dynamics that either support or inhibit planning and implementation. We believe that planning facilitation is one of the areas where we can provide the greatest value because at the same time that we're helping a team improve its effectiveness, we're also assisting them in developing formal plans and strategies for plan implementation. (For more information about our methods of combining team development with formal planning, see our article on the Team Development Process.) __________________________________________________________________________________________
Why is plan communication so important? Because communication forms the basis for alignment, and alignment is critical to effective plan implementation. Additionally, leaders and associates at all levels are more inclined to commit energy and focus their efforts on organizational priorities when they have complete knowledge of broad goals and objectives and an understanding of their respective roles in supporting them.
Our experience tells us that organizational goals are best communicated through a multi-level process that begins at the executive level and cascades throughout the organization. We help client organizations develop communications plans for divisions, groups, and units that build on core strategies and translate them into specific tasks and action plans.
For plans to be inclusive, organizations need to be well versed in the forces that impact their markets, opportunities for growth and expansion, and threats to their survival or ability to compete. But that's not enough. For planning to occur within the context of macro forces, organizations need to also communicate information regarding business, economic, and industry trends that affect their organizations. If an organization operates globally, its leaders must also communicate information about global trends. __________________________________________________________________________________________
How is Operations Planning Different from Strategic Planning?
innovators agree that it's critically important to place equal
importance on strategic and operations planning, yet many organizations
don't even distinguish between the two. To clarify, we define strategic
planning as focusing on what needs to be done, how it needs to be
done, and when. When effectively constructed and implemented,
operations planning can serve as the road map to strategic planning.
organizational capacity and effectiveness, one of the first things we
look at are an organization's strategic and operations plans. Why?
These function as starting points for strategy and strategy execution.
Many times organizations have competing goals and priorities that aren't
evident until plans are documented and cross referenced. We ensure
that inconsistencies are reconciled and that plans contain complete
information. We strongly believe that the key elements of operating
plan should address:
goal coordination and alignment
action plans for dealing with barriers such as resistance
action plans for addressing implementation obstacles
plan roll-out and communication
alignment and congruence between individuals, teams, and the overall plan
alignment and congruence between functional, department, division, and corporate plans
action plans with specific individuals named as primary and secondary project leads
Welch, the legendary and now retired CEO of General Electric once said, "What gets
measured gets done." We agree, and to that statement, we add, "What
gets gets measured has to first be planned." Although planning can run
the gamut from a simple discussion about where an organization would
like to be and a formal process for getting there, planning and
monitoring progress against plans is a key activity for any organization
seeking to become an innovation leader.
From an historical
perspective, strategic and operations planning were regarded as annual
events, typically undertaken by senior leadership teams in retreat type
formats. Today is different, and we can't be more emphatic when we
state that planning needs to be done on an ongoing process and not
treated as the annual event that it once was. Although
each organization needs to determine how often monitoring of a plan
should occur, we believe in general, that periodic monitoring should
be imbedded into standing leadership meetings. Additionally, we feel
strongly about the fact that planning needs to cascade throughout the
organization, moving from executive levels to division, unit, and team
levels. Just as change management initiatives require the involvement
of leaders and associates at all levels, planning requires buy-in and
sponsorship as well. __________________________________________________________________________________________
Why Professional Facilitation?
Innovative Outcomes provides planning facilitation in conjunction with other consulting services. Planning can be the result of an engagement that begins with a leadership assessment or it can begin with a coaching engagement. Planning facilitation sometimes expands beyond the senior leadership team, to include middle management. Sometimes individual coaching and/or team development are provided simultaneously with planning, allowing organization to close leadership gaps and improve team functioning at the same time that they're engaging in formal planning processes. Sometimes strategic planning facilitation extends to operating planning facilitation, and we're asked to work with teams, to ensure that plans are being effectively executed. In these situations, we ensure that organizations are appropriately responding to changing conditions in the market or with changing stakeholder expectations. And we work with teams to develop cascading plans that outline specific tasks, accountabilities, and timelines for units, functions, departments, or divisions.
Why external facilitation? An external facilitator frees the team leader to function as a participant in the planning process, as opposed to assuming multiple--and sometimes competing--roles. External facilitators are also in a unique position that allows them to surface differences that might remain suppressed with internal facilitation. And finally, external facilitators can take an objective role in mediating differences in philosophy or approaches that often arise during planning--and they can assist teams in arriving at win-win solutions. __________________________________________________________________________________________ To read what clients say about our strategic and operations planning services, click here. __________________________________________________________________________________________
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