Should business plans only be in pencil now!
Updated: May 12, 2020
Not to dismiss their value and or assume its easier to erase them but more easy to adapt them
The business plan and more over the business continuity plan(BCP) is that document that outlines how a business will operate or continue to operate during an unplanned disruption in service, well Coronavirus stress tested that to the n'th degree, many were reliant on a secondary site immediately inaccessible, so they could be torn up.
What this has taught us more than ever before is the need to be able to adapt and the resilience of our employees to accommodate change, therefore it goes hand in hand that our planning should be altered to reflect these changing times.
Historically plans in some organisations have been annual exercises to tick a box or executed through "custom and practice" worse many are regurgitated simply having almost just the periods changed.
Organisations now, more than ever need to consider strategic and operational planning as a continual check and balance exercise, the objective needn't change unless the assumptions are found to be incorrect.
Such plans and reviews need to identify the elements we hold as core assumptions from which the plan can be executed against. When any of our assumptions change the plan must be reviewed and altered otherwise it can remain in force and more importantly should remain fit for purpose.
There would now seem to be another set of plans that should be documented, this is not writing a list of all the "known unknowns" to say we have thought about "problems" but the steps to follow and adapt should a circumstance we don't want to happen, actually happens. For organisations that rely on key clients, distribution channels, supply chain this is critical, yet rarely done. Which brings us back to the need to be agile and create plans that can be easily adapted.
To deliver plans and an organisational structure that can quickly react or adapt, planing in pencil could deliver this, equally for plans to be adaptable, they must apply to a time frame that allows for review and amendment, so out go annual plans and let's introduce quarterly plans, created in a way they are easier to track, easier to alter and easier to track progress.
The period post Covid-19 will require and demand agility, this must start with an agile plan and one that is more outcome focused than generic "lofty" business goals, because these plans are the type that can allow your resilient and creative employees the freedom they need to continue to deliver and contribute, wherever they are.