by Doreen Yarnold

Detailed planning

This relates to the identification of specific activities and their associated resource needs, costs and revenues. It usually ends up being reflected in ‘to do’ lists, and project plans with budgets – annual, monthly or weekly.

This is the ‘how to’ element of the strategic process. We know what we need to have in place; we know what objectives and goals we want to achieve, and we also know what our aspired future position looks like. Now we need to decide specifically what we need to do to achieve it. These will range from top level actions right through to finite detail actions, including everything in between.

Please bear in mind here that nothing should be considered that doesn’t deliver or support the aspired future position and the key objectives and goals. Double-check every action against this benchmark. If it doesn’t deliver, take it out; get rid of it; it has no place within the planning process. It will be surplus to requirements and will act as an unnecessary distraction against the implementation of the strategy.

Also, on this point, nothing should be considered that cannot be measured in some way. To coin the old cliché, ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’, so all actions should be measurable, and someone should own them, and be accountable for their achievement.

This level of detail is important because it’s so easy to write required actions down and even communicate them to your team, assuming that someone will own them and make them happen. In the real world, however, unless you apportion an ‘owner’ and outline the requisite accountabilities of ownership, then things just don’t get done, and responsibility for this can only rest at your door, as manager.

Another necessary word of caution: in the planning stage, please be thorough in your consideration of how you will communicate (consult, share) the aspired future position, the key objectives and goals, and the strategy. Hopefully, you will have already shared and involved your team right from the start, so it will be really motivating to share the outcomes of all of this with them (as much of it will be their own work). Multiple heads are better than one, so the more involved you allow your people to be, and at the earliest stage, the higher the chances of increased buy-in to the strategy and aspired future position will be, particularly if they understand, not just what’s important, but also why it’s important.

Also, in order to aid the implementation stage, it will be necessary to revisit the prioritisation and time-dependency work carried out earlier in the process. You will also need to apply that same level of prioritisation and time-dependency approach to the planning, in other words the order in which things get rolled out. Creating a time-line here is a really useful approach.