Our organizations won’t survive without ‘Living Plans’

Without a Whole-of-Business Living Plan we’re gambling on guesswork, blind luck and reactive tactics

Every organization is rethinking its business models. Most of us are planning for a near-term-future world that looks a lot like the one we have now – uncertain and challenging. There is no doubt some teams are reacting. The number of restructurings currently going on demonstrates this. Others are taking piecemeal, short-term decisions. However some organizations focusing on viability and growth are rethinking their models within a strategic framework based on the simple premise of building and working to an organization-wide, whole-of-business Living Plan. Imagine being able to say to your key stakeholders ‘We have a Living Plan that always provides an up-to-date state-of-play across all our people and their work – current and future.’

Essentially, the “Living Plan’ comes about by using information technology to very rapidly connect-up the maximum amount of quality data in the 1-place and in a coherent form. The question isn’t whether we need Living Plans. The question is how can we survive without them!

Essentially, the “Living Plan’ comes about by using information technology to very connect-up the maximum amount of quality data in the 1-place and in a coherent form. The question isn’t whether we need Living Plans. The question is how can we survive without them!

This blog extends the conversation previously started around a ‘Living Plan‘.

This is how we define a ‘Living Plan’ aka ‘Living Game-plan’.

  1. A ‘Living Plan’ provides a detailed organizational Blueprint and is the single-source-of-truth about how well we are planning, managing and delivering. The Plan sets out our thinking. We own it rather than relying on someone else to write our story.
  2. It is dynamic because it is being constantly updated, and tuned, by people at all points of your business. In a working world where everyone-has-a-voice this generates powerful, continuous ‘work stories’ as an real alternative to rear-vision-mirror reporting. We are all part of the Living Plan and the picture it paints about the part we play in the world. We buy into a ‘contest of ideas’ across our investments spawning healthy debate.
  3. Because it represents a lean approach to planning and delivery we can react and pivot on-the-spot without causing major disruption to our people and the business.
  4. A ‘Living Plan’ is at its best when we are willing to simplify the way we work by removing process, paper and reliance on outlandish promises.

It is dynamic because it is being constantly updated by people at all points of your business. In a world where everyone-has-a-voice this generates powerful, continuous ‘work stories’ as an real alternative to rear-vision-mirror reporting. We are all part of the Living Plan…

It’s also important to understand what a Living Plan isn’t. It isn’t a series of hard-copy reports, or A3 visualizations, or spreadsheets. It isn’t a series of static dashboards that look pretty but really take you nowhere. It isn’t a conventional Annual Report or Strategic Plan. It isn’t an information framework that is already out of date by the time we see it. While a Living Plan isn’t any of these things these are the hand-me-down systems most of us are used to and which tend to frame up our thinking. We are so used to mediocre systems that anything innovative seems far-fetched. But no longer.

We are so used to mediocre systems that anything innovative seems far-fetched. But no longer.

Some time back I spoke with a public sector CEO and outlined the concept of a Living Plan. At the end of the conversation I asked the CEO what he felt about the concept. He got it and saw the value but replied that it would scare him senseless. When I asked why he said that getting to this point would obviously take a lot of work and cause untold disruption, and he just didn’t have the appetite for that process. In fact, using the right information technology and a willingness to explore new ways of working the opposite is the case. It’s very straightforward.

  1. Building the Living Plan is done by collating everything we are currently working on, albeit in disparate systems and different forms, and gaining immediate efficiencies through a consistent approach to work management and with the opportunity to strip out and simplify process. This is simple and rapid.
  2. Our people are already feeling disrupted and uncertain about future employment. The reality is that some will lose their jobs. But many won’t and these people need to know that our management teams are doing their very best to truly understand the opportunities, challenges and risks and all of these elements are permeating our strategic thinking.
  3. The results of this work will start to appear within hours of starting as we create structure and enter data. Within days we’ll be having conversations at all levels of the business about what you’re investing time and money in, and why. Every conversation will inform next steps. Imagine every single project in the business being prioritized, and ranked, in terms of its investment profile and business benefits.
  4. Better data provided in context will dramatically improve our levels of confidence in our decision-making. We will be investing in, and working on the right things, for the right reasons and achieving the right results.

We cannot afford to constrain our thinking by thinking of a ‘plan’ as something inflexible and only used by ‘planners’. We are talking about something alive, used by everyone, able to be tuned on the fly and which is our one point-of-reference across how we are performing. Imagine having this with not a spreadsheet or hard-copy report in sight. No-place to hide. Are we up for that?

We need to create a living plan and a road map that can be continuously adjusted as new information comes to light. Rob Fyfe.

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