We’ve heard these phrases many times — think before you act, look before you leap, and so on. The key theme behind these phrases is Planning. Planning allows you to:
- Identify and define what you want to achieve
- How you are going to achieve the desired outcome? Essentially, what are the steps to get there?
- What do you need to execute the steps?
This process of thinking will allow you flush out as many unknowns as you can prior to actually taking the first step. The top reason why most people and organizations have failed to achieve their objectives is improper planning. Even though planning is very important, we tend to take this lightly and assume that we can figure things out as we go.
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
If we don’t plan things in the first place, then we will not know the optimum path to achieve the goal. We will tend to take blind shots in the air and waste a lot of resources. This will stretch timeframes. Demoralize team members. And eventually lead to failure. The sad part is that many organizations with clear objectives often overlook and ditch the planning phase. We need to realize that to avoid failure and handle risks in our endeavor, planning must be given its due importance.
Great planning yields effective results in every aspect of an organization or individual’s activities. A good plan has clearly defined outcomes and key milestones to reach that outcome. These clearly defined milestones and outcomes become an integral part of the periodic review process. At every such review, you can ask these key questions:
- Are we on track to achieve the planned outcome?
- If not, where did we go wrong? What do we need to do to get back on track?
- Also, if we have completed all the planned activities thus far, on time, we should have achieved the planned outcomes? Did that happen?
- If the answer to this question is “No”, then we have a problem with our planning.
- If the answer is “Yes” then tip your hat to yourself — you’ve done a fantastic job in planning.
- Finally, if we continue to execute our planned activities, will we hit the remaining milestones and achieve the remaining planned outcomes.
Good OKRs are actually part of a good plan. OKRs help you define your desired outcomes and set the direction for the entire plan. This kind of a sound planning exercise will reduce wastage, and avoid redundant tasks/resources to achieve your desired results.
Planning improves resource utilization
Any organization, irrespective of its size has limited resources. Resources could be human capital, cash, and time. Companies or individuals should utilize these resources effectively since they are limited and squandering them will be unacceptable.
How do we use the resources properly without wasting them? By having a good plan. Having a good plan will help you utilize and allocate the available resources. Planning can help you determine the costs, efforts, and time required from the identified requirements. So it enables you to hire only the needed resources to get the job done, thereby minimizing wastages.
Quality Decision Making
When you are working towards a purpose, you will have to make various decisions in your daily activities. Some of the decisions will have a notable impact, while some decisions will have subtle effects. Frequent decision making will create decision fatigue and creates stress. Good planning will allow you to plan your course of action and decisions depending on the outcomes of previous phases/stages of your plan.
But have you wondered how you can opt for the right choice amidst the noise? Having a perfectly crafted OKR can help you make a quick and quality decision when multiple options present itself before you. The expected key result in the objective will act as a guiding star to make decisions with clarity and overcome cognitive biases.
Proper planning facilitates healthy coordination in your environment. Departments/groups don’t share information, process, and tools with others unless they see a need for it. When everyone knows the plan and the team members clearly, transparency increases. This will avoid the silos that exist due to the hierarchical structure in an organization and facilitate sharing.
How planning promotes coordination? Planning will:
- Reduce conflicts that arise between departments.
- Enable the team to align their work towards the common goal.
- Clarify the roles and responsibilities of each employee
- Ensure that employees are clear about the skills and expertise to bring to the table, to get things done.
Every good plan shows a good path to achieve the desired outcome and outlines what can go wrong. Having a clear understanding of the “What can go wrong?” or “risks” is very important. Managing these risks is an important part of proper planning.
As mentioned, planning helps you identify the unforeseen risk and assess the impact. It also lets you prepare the list of action steps on how you are going to respond to the risk, whether you are going to avoid it, mitigate or transfer the risk to others. An effective plan should have contingency plans and exact action steps to deal with the risks.
Staying on track
Planning activities well in advance will help you stay on track. One important benefit of a good plan is that saves you from getting overwhelmed with many tasks that are not relevant to what you are trying to achieve. A well-written plan will identify the things that don’t deserve your attention and easily cut out the distractions.
Having a well-written OKRs to guide your planning process and frequently checking in will help you stay on track. Key results set clear expectations and show you where to put your effort. This way, you can eliminate all the unimportant tasks and dedicate more effort towards what matters.