Why You Need A Plan And What You Need To Consider

Why don’t we plan? Because it’s more exciting to just see what happens, right? Or perhaps you’re too busy dealing with today to even consider tomorrow. Maybe you simply can’t get the leadership team to agree or don’t have the right data available.

Whatever your reason, you need to have a plan – and you need to include the right elements and measure what matters. The Manufacturing Institute’s Business Consultant, Hugh Samson, and Business Excellence Coach, Steve Nicoll, tell you why.

The importance of a plan

Without a plan, you’re flying blind. As the famous American baseball player and manager Yogi Berra puts it, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

But with one, you’ll create focus. As a leader, you should provide direction and clarity. A plan will allow you to set this direction and get everyone on the same page. You’ll be able to drive alignment, and simplify both decision-making and management.

Everyone across the business will better understand their (and your) objectives too, and it also establishes a foundation for teamwork. Ultimately, it limits your chance of failing.

What to include in your plan

As a basis, your plan should have the following:

  • A mission – What the organisation wants to achieve for itself, its people, and its communities
  • Values – Held by your team, such as commitment, respect, empathy and trust
  • Focus goals – Relating to improving your people, quality, delivery, financial performance, and growth
  • A strategy – For each of your focus goals, and the key objectives within these
  • Measurement processes – How you’re going to accomplish your aims

To form this plan, you’ll need to consider these questions:

  • What are we trying to do?
  • Which people should it include?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Does it align across the whole business?
  • How can we ensure everyone is engaged and on board?
  • How can we sustain and improve?
  • What could go wrong, and what contingency plans will need to be put in place?
  • How can we successfully measure, update and review the plan?

Why you need to measure what matters

“Measurement is fabulous. Unless you’re busy measuring what’s easy to measure as opposed to what’s important.” – Seth Godin

Measurements are a key part of your plan. We depend on them to inform, engage and drive action. But, so often, we aren’t measuring what matters. In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review survey  found just 35% of respondents felt their current performance systems were effective at measuring what’s important.

What managers are generally assessing is the things they need to know so that they can plan, organise and control. But for a plan to be successful, you should measure what matters to the whole business. This will, in turn, promote widespread participation.

If you track the right performance measurements, you can guarantee that you’re on the right track, take corrective action, and then establish whether the improvements have been effective.

How to measure what’s important

You need to choose your measures based on the people who will use and influence them. This way, they’ll ensure your team is focused on the work that matters.

Here, it’s helpful to refer to the first of the Shingo Model’s three insights: for ideal results, you need ideal behaviours. This is because a business’ results rely on the actions of its team. A leader has to therefore build a culture where ideal behaviours become the norm.

To do this, you can’t just have key performance indicators (KPIs) in your plan. You need to consider other mechanisms – specifically key behaviour indicators (KBIs). These will measure how you achieve ideal results (KPIs) through ideal behaviours.

John Doerr also had an alternative to KPIs: objectives and key results, or OKRs. These are to the point and explain what is to be accomplished. No more, no less. They’re action-focused and inspirational.

The importance of purpose

Purpose is central to measuring what matters. A purposeful system of measurement – one that tracks progress continuously and can be reviewed regularly – will help you to deliver a successful plan. You’ll have all the touchpoints you need to assess daily activity in an agile and responsive way.

For a culture of excellence, people really do need to understand the purpose of measurement. And this all starts with defining it clearly, and cascading it throughout the business. If you create measures without understanding the purpose, then you’ll only end up measuring things that don’t matter.

Manufacturing leaders have a lot to both measure and plan. Our leadership development bootcamp can help you develop crucial managerial skills, and our lean manufacturing bootcamp provides the relevant techniques to refine your performance management approach. You’ll be able to ensure all processes are smooth and efficient, and that a plan actually goes to plan. Keen to know more? Speak to our team now

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