Planning is Change Management Tool
Although it is rarely identified as a tool for navigating turbulent waters, Strategic Planning is one of
the most powerful tools management has for dealing with change. When our phone rings, nine times out
of ten, the person on the other end is experiencing some type of organizational change. The types
of change are as diverse as the clients. The more common ones include:
A new leader
Change in the competitive landscape
Change in government regulations
Economic challenges or opportunities
Whatever the change facing the organization, planning can be used to effectively manage that change.
Of course it is not the plan that manages change, it is the planning process. The process of
developing the plan must be designed to bring about positive change. Our experience tells us that an
effective planning process must include at least three things:
The organization needs a clear Vision of what it is changing to. The desired outcome for the organization
must be understood and shared by most people in the organization. Certainly the leadership should
be committed to the shared Vision.
It must have the commitment of the management team to implementing the changes needed to achieve the Vision.
The implementation process always falls heavily on the management team. Without their support
very little can happen in an organization. In fact, if management doesn't support the changes,
there are a hundred small ways to resist or even undermine the efforts of the leadership.
And finally, the process must generate enough detail in the form of action plans so everyone
knows what is expected of them. It is important to have a broad Vision and lofty goals but that
must be balanced with clear direction on how to achieve them. Without specifics, it is hard to
communicate expectations. Without expectations, there can be no accountability.
So when you're faced with managing the changes that will inevitably come your way, look to strategic
planning as a way to navigate a course to a more successful future.
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The New Normal
The "new normal" is a phrase I have heard several times this year, and it's only February. What does
that mean? Does is mean we have to lower our expectations? Does it mean the wave of prosperity
which has carried the country forward for the last several decades has come to an end?
I think the new normal will be characterized by winners and losers. In an era of prosperity
and growth, success looks pretty easy. Even the marginal performers can roll along year after
year. The loss of the built-in growth factor exposes the flaws and forces a closer look at
everything. Many organizations have already taken that closer look. They have made many of
the adjustments necessary to survive, and in some cases thrive, in the new environment.
Others are holding on hoping things will get better. As I like to say, hope is not a strategy.
The talk of a "V" bottom and a quick recovery has faded. The talk today is about limited growth
and uncertainty for as far as the eye can see.
I think it also means it may be time for a new strategy. What has worked in the past may not
work in the future. It is time to concentrate more on the path ahead rather than contemplate
what has been left behind. As the world changes, so do the requirements of success.