Friday, April 9, 2021

Planning-Implementation as Iterative Continuum

The digital organization can reach the stage of ripeness, when it acts as an organic system which continues evolving and adapting, informative and innovative.

The digital organization is a complex and adaptive business system. The degree of planning has a positive correlation with the degree of uncertainty and unpredictability. Forward-thinking and well-managed companies need to keep doing strategic planning, implementation and improving. 

Digital leaders have to keep evolving and gaining new and broader views, ask tough questions about the cause & effect of complex issues, discover unexpected connections between the business and its rich environment, and manage an iterative planning-implementation continuum smoothly.

Is the actual configuration of the organization's strategy a consequence of design and implementation strategies? A business plan outlines the preferred course of action, providing direction. But with today’s business velocity, if planned in detail as far ahead as the end state, much planning time and effort will be wasted. Strategic planning is a statement of “higher intent’ but is not a detailed plan in itself. We do, we plan, implement, monitor, assess, it is planned. Therefore, true planning is the glove, management is the hand in the glove. In the respect of gaps between planning and implementation, uncertainty is the biggest problem in business today, strategic planning needs to become a "living process" with regular evaluation, scanning, listening, revisiting and potential course correction. And sometimes when strategies change, the hand adjusts the shape of the glove.

The business leaders and their team cannot afford to be unprepared for the challenging task of facing an uncertainty. The problem is not uncertainty, rather, it is unpreparedness towards efficient handling of uncertainty. Thus, they need to ask tough questions such as: how can the soft signals of contextual changes be best determined? How do you structure business systems to deal with uncertainty? Etc. A good strategic planning has the very characteristics of Readability, Clarity, Understandability, Comprehensibility, Usability, Simplicity, etc. It is important to “make vision reachable” and "make strategy happen"; planning and implementation are complementary processes that only balance each other and can produce meaningful outcomes.

What consequences can be created through action steps of strategic implementation: We plan for gloom, we get gloom. Positive attitude, great preparation, vision, intuition, perseverance and the ability to work hard are all crucial factors to unlock performance. However, in many organizations, there is a discontinuity or even a chasm between desired and delivered performance and consequence. Management needs to provide coherence between actual capability and the objectives that have been defined, and addresses in outline how the strategic objectives will be achieved, which includes exploring your center of gravity or bridge capability and culture gaps such as, an inability to build momentum and increase the tempo of operations; a waste of time, emotional energy and other resources invested in work, etc.

In practice, planning and execution are not linear steps, but an iterative continuum. Planning is paramount but, in these uncertain times, this should go hand in hand with contingency planning around “what if” scenarios. The responsibility of the management is to make a seamless alignment of planning and implementation. The management needs to predict which consequences can be created through action steps of strategic implementation, and how to make proper adjustments and continuous adjustments. The key is to engage the whole organization in knowing and understanding the direction and planning of the business and build the momentum and increase the tempo of operations.

Is it possible to accelerate a healthy dynamic sequence-consequence cycle: Dynamism consists in being able to break away from being static, and becoming proactive to changes. The dynamic planning-implementation, sequence-consequence cycle involves the continual attention to current changes in the organization and its external environment, and how this affects the future of the organization. It is important that business management has objectivity and humility to realize that their hard processes/systems are outdated or soft elements such as culture are ineffective, they need to keep modernizing, integrating, innovating, and optimizing. Acceleration means to speed up the organizational vehicle to build the business competency for long-term growth and prosperity.

Speeding up implies orchestrating strategy implementation in a synchronous way. With today’s business dynamic, the business operation should be refined to the point that it can adapt to changing business demands in a timely fashion, it can be adjusted to meet the business priority, and be effective with the little down curve. “Development, enhancement, and improvement" imply an acceleration mindset, capture both the individual's and the organizational structure development needs, and set the scene for a process to achieve well-defined goals and reach the next level of the growth cycle and business transcendence.

The digital organization can reach the stage of ripeness, when it acts as an organic system which continues evolving and adapting, informative and innovative, with the right appetite to tolerate risks, have the differential competency to unlock performance, take the right pace, and walk the talk for acceleration, innovation, and digital transformation.


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