Tag Archive: planning

Why Strategic Planning Is an Oxymoron

September 2nd, 2015

Strategic planning has long been hailed the business cornerstone for projecting profit and growth. Oftentimes, the strategy, “what”, gets mixed up with the tactics, or the “how”, which leads to failure.

Although almost everyone uses the term strategic planning, it doesn’t make sense. Setting strategy is clear; however, you shouldn’t be thinking about how to plan when looking to the future. In essence, strategy is the “what” whereas tactics are the “how”. Another way to think about strategy is to think about where you’ll end up. Do not think about how you’ll get there and mix it up with where you should end up!

Planning or tactics relates more to the implementation or the “how”. Where strategy is working on the “right things”, tactics is “doing things right”. Another way to think about this is to determine how to translate the conceptualization of the strategy into operational realities for your manufacturing or distribution company. Thus, do strategies fail in formulation or execution?  90%+ of the time it fails in execution.

Strategy implementation should consider how the organization will have to change and evolve to support the strategy. Do you have the people, skills and capabilities required to meet the strategy? If not, there are many options to evaluate. Are the processes and systems set up to achieve the strategy?  It is unlikely. There is always some sort of tweak, upgrade or new process required. Do the culture and communication systems support the strategy? There are countless items to consider to ensure success. I put together my 5P Accelerator (SM) process to bridge the gap and transition between strategy and implementation. If you are interested in learning more about how to leverage it, give me a call.   

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Are You Planning for Failure?

February 24th, 2015
planning for failure

Your business won’t thrive if you expect the worst. Instead, plan for the best outcome and watch it unfold.

Are you planning for failure? I imagine no one thinks they plan for failure; however, I see it happen more than you’d think. Instead, plan for success, and success will follow.

Have you ever called an important contact and were surprised when he/she answered the phone – and you didn’t know what to say? Don’t despair…we have all been there. This is an example of planning for failure on a small scale. As easy as it is to do with this, unfortunately, I also see countless examples of this in everyday work situations.

For example, if you are planning an important meeting, do you plan for success or failure? Do you expect your sponsor to show up to support you? Plan as though he or she will! Even if he doesn’t, run the meeting as though he did. You’ll be surprised how this type of simple action will contribute to success.

The same holds true if you are planning an event. Do you expect to “fill the house”? Or are you worried if there will be only a handful of people in attendance? Be willing to plan for success. Guarantee food for a full house. Bring the best speakers. Assume you will find a way to achieve success, and you will. What you think will affect whether you plan for success or failure. At my APICS Inland Empire’s first executive panel and networking symposium, we were not sure if we would find enough panelists, fill the audience, etc.  It was scary as we had to commit funds – and, worse yet, we were concerned as to whether we’d lose face if the event wasn’t successful. Instead, we planned for success, and were thrilled that we had 80 people (four times our previously typical program audience) turn up for an amazing panel discussion.

In another example, if you have a recommendation you feel strongly will help your company, will you plan for success to gain approval? Or, will you not ask to meet with the CEO or Board of Directors because you think he/she is too busy or not interested? Think about your idea. Is it worthwhile? If so, plan for success. Be persistent. Bring your peers and manager in the loop. Present why it is a “win” for them – put it in their best interest. Be willing to push for your recommendation, even if you risk hearing “no”. If you do not ask, you will definitely not succeed.

Lastly, in another example, if you know you have a good chance to “win” new business; however, in order to keep it, you have to maintain service levels over 98% which would require spending money not currently approved in your budget, will you? Or will you hold off to try to make both work (win the business and maintain service without spending money), even though the chances are slim? Plan for success. Go to the appropriate people to gain budget approval. Clearly communicate the potential return on investment. Be willing to go to your Board of Directors if required to gain upfront approval. Assume compelling logic will be sufficient. The worse that could happen is that you hear “no”.

It is easy to unintentionally plan for failure. The main way to ensure you plan for success instead of failure is to maintain focused on the end goal. What do you want to achieve? Why? How can you make sure it’s achieved? Develop plans and stick to them. Be persistent. Be bold. Be willing to invest in success. Be willing to ask for help. Plan for success. Success will follow. 

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Are You Prepared for Success?

October 28th, 2014
handling success

One would expect success to be welcome and easy to handle, but it can blindside you and be surprisingly hard to handle if you have only prepared against failure. Prepare your success strategy now with the help of your team to enjoy it when it happens.

Are you prepared for success? We worry so much about failure that I find most clients are not prepared for success.

You know what the lawyers say, “never go into a situation without knowing the answer and being prepared for anything that might come up”. It is proven that the well-prepared will perform far better than those scrambling to survive without a plan for success.

Think about success from both personal and professional standpoint. It seems strange that this would be necessary; however, in my experience, one of the contributing causes of failure is not being ready for success. I’ve found that if you expect success, you’ll achieve it; and, on the other hand, if you expect failure, you’ll achieve that as well. So, what are a few keys to successfully preparing for success?

1. First, Plan: Without planning, you must scramble. For example, if you are a manufacturer and your sales suddenly spike by 25%, are you prepared to ramp up within your lead time? Are raw materials readily available? Are your crews ready to begin production? Although scrambling could achieve the 25% sales spike, there’s no doubt it will be at a higher cost or lower quality. For example, without planning, it is likely you’ll not only need to go to alternate, higher cost, non-core suppliers in order to get raw materials but you’ll also need to use excessive overtime to produce the increased volume.

Instead, begin planning now. It is never too early. It does not need to be complex and time consuming. Consider what will happen if various success scenarios are achieved. Put together a plan. Add “what if” scenarios. Are there items you can implement now with minimal/no cost which will set you up for success? For example, can you cross-train your crews to prepare for various production alternatives?

2. Flexibility: Flexibility is a key to success. Build flexibility into not only your plans but every business process! For example, cross-training crews provides flexibility to produce multiple products with the same resources. Another example is to partner with your suppliers and internal partners to modify your product and/or manufacturing process so that you can use multiple, similar materials while meeting product specifications, which provides flexibility in terms of material supply.

3. Communication: There’s no doubt that most plans fail due to a lack of communication and execution. Preparing for success is no different! It is vital to communicate every step of the way.

Plans are useless if no one knows about them. Sound obvious? Then, why don’t our employees know our goals and plans? Have we shared critical supply chain “what if” scenarios with the appropriate supply chain partners (customers, suppliers, carriers, brokers, etc.)?

It doesn’t have to be complex or expensive to prepare for success; however, you will likely miss your best opportunities unless you are ready!

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A Planning Mindset Is Invaluable to the Supply Chain

October 14th, 2014
planning mindset

Planning is essential for business management, but by really embracing it and getting into a planning mindset you can figure out innovative, improved strategies across all segments of your company.

Developing a planning mindset can be invaluable to not only planners but also to any supply chain management employee/leader. When I refer to planning, I mean planning from multiple perspectives:  production planning, raw material planning, project planning, SIOP (sales, inventory, and operations planning), financial planning, and budgeting, etc.

I find that developing a plan is more than half the battle. If you are part of a team, it provides a way for everyone to be on the same page. Who should do what and when? What sequence should we follow? Are there dependencies?

It also allows for the optimizing of several variables. For example, a production plan should minimize inventory levels, maximize service levels, and provide the best opportunity for increased efficiencies and reduced cost. Most plans optimize resources, costs, and risks.

Even if you are developing a plan for only you to follow, it can be vital to success. It requires putting thought in upfront.  Do not overanalyze; however, put in appropriate thought for the criticality of the topic. Have you thought through potential roadblocks that could arise?

Have you heard of the PDCA model? (Plan, do, check, act) The most successful put time in upfront – it yields significant results. 

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The Systems View

January 2nd, 2014
Interconnected dynamic business systems

Do the systems in your business work together like the interconnected dynamic systems they are?

I was collaborating on a book on the topic of increasing the value of your business with a colleague yesterday, and we both latched on to the systems thinking view.

We agreed it is “the” way to look at a business. What is a business other than a set of interconnected dynamic systems?

To give you a flavor of these systems, I thought I’d list several to spur thinking.  Stay tuned for workshops, assessment tools, and our book on increasing the value of your business.

1. Financial – Every company has financial systems.  P&Ls, balance sheets, cash flow statements, key performance metrics, and more.

2. Operational – How does your company operate?  Does it produce products?  Provide services?  Service repairs?  There are countless operational processes we could discuss.

3. People – Do you have employees?  How do you hold your employees accountable?  What reward and recognition systems do you have in place?

4. Strategy – Do you have a strategy?  If not, does that mean you are flying blind?  How does your strategy fit with your day-to-day operations?

5. Metrics – How do you track progress?  Do you know if you are improving or declining?

6. Planning – How do you translate your strategy into plans?  Do you have goals and objectives?  Is there a continuous feedback loop?

And the list goes on. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are countless more.  The key is how to put all these together successfully.

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