The Value of Planning

General and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” The same can be said for any organization, regardless of size. While there may be a certain allure to flying by the seat of one’s pants and being hyper-reactive to the needs of the community, the environment, or the market, true success typically is the result of quality planning. What do we mean by quality? Well, in order to truly capture the value of planning, you need a few things. Particularly, you need to know what you are planning for.

When dealing with clients, we typically talk of a hierarchy of plans. What we are focusing on is the fact that there are plans that help you lay out your organization’s future at multiple levels. We often talk about a strategic plan, which perhaps looks at a two to five year scheduling horizon, depending on the nature of the organization. And underneath our strategic plan, we typically look at what are called tactical plans, which may be 6, 12, 18 month plans. But we don’t stop there. We also identify additional plans focused on specific activities of the organization: a communication plan (how are we going to communicate with our stakeholders?), a technology plan (what is the technology that we envision as our enabling component for our implementation?), a financial plan, a staffing plan, et cetera.

Now, that is not to say that one should spend a copious amount of time trapped in a never-ending cycle of planning and analysis, because plans are just that: a strategy for dealing with the future. However, by simply identifying what plans are valuable and appropriate for your organization, you can then take incremental steps towards capturing the value of those plans. For instance, if our organization has a long-term strategy to increase our client service portfolio twofold, we would then look at what we need to do this year to accomplish that. And as we look at that, I might say, “Well, we’re going to need a more robust customer resource management tool so that we can better manage our communications with our clients. We’re going to need to figure out a communication plan: What do we need to say? How do we need to say it? Who needs to be saying it? What is the frequency? We need a staffing plan. Who do we have on board today, and whom do we need to get on board? How does the training build up? How do we increase the skills of these people?”

Again, the point is that in the end, we’ve developed a rather detailed road map that will allow us to execute on a daily basis, ensuring that we are on the road to eventual strategic success in the long run. As President Eisenhower said, “Planning, as it turns out, is pretty indispensable.” And what is also indispensable is having a partner who can help you flesh out those plans to a level appropriate to your organization and your goals, and more importantly, stand by you and support you in implementing those plans to success. That’s Kelcey & Co..