In an ever-changing world, is writing a formal work plan really worth it? Ram Jaulus, CEO of NGG, explains how companies benefit from flexibility and efficiency, how preliminary planning pays off and why you should adapt quickly to changes.
Now, more than ever, organizations must contend with an increasingly fast-paced work environment as well as unprecedented levels of uncertainty. Have the old models of planning and thinking become passé? What must organizations consider when approaching the planning process? Which aspects are still relevant and which ones need to be rethought?
Here are four things to take into account when formulating a work plan in a chaotic world:
1. Planning – Horizons, Pacing and Frequency
Planning horizons have grown drastically shorter, and therefore:
- Work plans must be monitored and adjusted continuously throughout the year
- Organizations must reallocate responsibilities and resources
- Methods of oversight and control must also adapt to be continuous; it cannot be done after the fact, which is already too late.
As an organization, it is important to avoid drawing the conclusion that uncertainty and instability must mean that planning is meaningless. People tend to get carried away with the thought that by the time they complete their project plan, everything will have already changed and the objectives they set for themselves will be irrelevant. But in fact, the opposite is true! Indeed, everything will change, but that only reinforces the need for short-term personalized plans that are adaptable. Planning increases in depth, as well as in the frequency by which it must be adjusted.
Every organization needs to adapt its planning methods while keeping the following points in mind:
- What needs to be considered more deeply?
- What can be kept modular and updated on an as-need basis?
- Are the traditionally set targets still relevant?
- Are the oversight and control methods effective?
2. Uncertainty and Risk Management
It is also apparent that there is now a wider range of risks as well as a higher level of uncertainty, and both of these factors make the planning process even more difficult for organizations. Risk management today is an entirely different beast from what it used to be, even in the not-so-distant past. Today, risk management is a mechanism that permeates the entire organization’s activities. Each unit must be measured against risk indices, in addition to meeting targets and other business and organizational indices.
What should you do?
- Characterize and define as many risk factors and uncertainties as you can: This requires preparing an action plan of how to deal with issues that may arise, with the expectation that there will be unpredictable risks and that even the predictable risks may present themselves differently.
- Build a risk management plan that deals with the repercussions of unexpected risks: How long will it take for the organization to recover? How much error can the organization absorb from a financial perspective, both in terms of loss of business and in terms of financial harm? Both of these measures—recovery and cost of error—are the primary factors to use when calculating the organizational process in any area.
- Define the scope of threats that the organization is capable of dealing with simultaneously, both in terms of recovery and cost of error.
3. Flexibility and Efficacy: the Organizational Weight
Everyone’s talking about “organizational flexibility,” but what does that term actually mean? Can an organization really adapt quickly to changes?
Forward-thinking organizations benefit from adopting indices to measure organizational efficacy.
The old indices of cost per unit sold, cost of generating income and similar measurements are no longer sufficient in today’s world.
Today’s organizations need new efficacy benchmarks that indicate an improvement in performance, such as:
- “Organizational efficacy index” – a measurement intended to monitor the decline in overall organizational weight over time.
- Flexibility index / “cost of change” – a measurement of the cost of a particular change, if necessary (for example, the cost of dismantling an organizational unit and establishing a new one).
4. Adapting to Change – Change Management
Change management is an old, familiar concept. For decades, we’ve been living in a changing world, but recently, the pace of change is becoming increasingly difficult for organizations to manage. The resulting pressure is mounting, and organizations’ capacity to deal with it is limited. An organization’s ability to adapt to change is composed of a number of different factors, some or which are overall organizational and some which are an aggregation of preexisting components.
- For preexisting components – adopt and implement an index of change preparedness
- On an overall organizational level – examine the human resources’ preparedness and the adaptability of the of the human capital