Strategic Planning-Start by not doing

Strategic Planning-Start by not doing

It is the time of the year where many organisations, departments, business and operation units get together to review what have they done this year and plan for new initiatives for the coming year. Throughout my corporate experience doing Strategic Planning, Business Plan, Workplan and crafting of KPIs at various organisational levels for different organisations, I noticed that the leaders tend to say "We must do more next year, we must continue to add on to the "To-do List", we must have continuous improvement for our next year's Business Plan, we must be efficient and effective so let's do more and more."

There is a tendency to do more and increase our "To-do List" but to do more, we need to have the bandwidth, budget, time, manpower and resources for the additional roles and assignments yet every resource is lean and limited. To do more and do new things, we need to question, review, stop, streamline and eliminate certain work tasks and processes that are outdated, obsolete, irrelevant and inefficient so that the team and department will not be overstretched and overwhelmed. In order to do more for next year, refrain from jumping into what we must do more next year, and start with what must we stop doing, do less or do differently next year during the Strategic Planning Session.

Likewise, when there is restructuring, merging of departments and new business strategy, we may continue to do what we are currently doing or start doing more. In fact, we have to pause, identify and review our department’s current business and operation plan, work tasks and work processes during mid-year, per quarter and year-end before adding more work.

A few months back, I was grateful to conduct a Strategic Planning for an organisation that is embarking on a new Business Strategy next year. The leader's approach was very extraordinary and instead of start doing more, the leader requested for the team to pause and start the strategic planning by using STOP, START, CONTINUE AND CHANGE (SSCC) when reviewing the work tasks and work processes of an individual and the department.

Strategic Planning starts from Individual- Each individual can reflect and list down one’s tasks and work processes and provide reasons on what needs to STOP, START, CONTINUE AND CHANGE. Under STOP, what am I doing in my team and department that is not effective, annoying and why? Under START, what is beneficial to me, my team and department that we should start doing and why? Under CONTINUE, what is working well and why it should be continued? Under CHANGE, what is working well but why need areas of improvement?

Team involvement's in the process facilitation

To identify and question what we are currently doing, it will enable the team and department to reflect, rethink and review. This prevents the team from being caught up in the fire-fighting mode and to be stressed and overwhelmed when new work tasks keep piling up alongside the existing workload. In our workplace, we face situations when we have to do more yet nothing is reduced to enable us to allocate effort and time to complete the new tasks and work processes. Work processes need to be simplified and optimised so that it will be more effective and efficient for an individual, the team, and the organisation.

Besides reflecting on the current work processes and identifying the strengths and areas for improvement, the team and the department can discover the root causes of work processes that are not effective and efficient. This will help the department to consolidate what are the work processes that need to STOP, START, CONTINUE AND CHANGE so that the organisation can be lean, agile and be more responsive to swift market changes. The department also needs to decide on the agreed voting criteria so that all team members get to vote based on the Pareto Principle 80/20 rule, lower hanging fruits, level of impact, the probability of success and costs effectiveness.

The team members will also be involved to propose what needs to STOP, START, CONTINUE AND CHANGE (SSCC) and their voices and feelings are being heard. There is also greater buy-in as they contribute their ideas and get to vote on the work process that need to STOP, START, CONTINUE AND CHANGE. When the team members are aware of what their team members are doing and challenges they face, there will be mutual understanding, respect and empathy. This awareness will also enable them to better appreciate one another’s responsibilities and enhance team bonding and working relationship as the team can work together collectively towards effective and efficient work process.

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