Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Planning And Management: Dynamic And Interactive

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Businesses and individual projects require both planning and management. This seems obvious, but in the shuffle of our real-world in real time, the obvious is often overlooked. The plan is the road map based upon your initial assessment of the goal to be achieved and your evaluation of the facts available to you, as cartographer, at the time. Management has to do with driving the organizational vehicle in accordance with the road map. But any plan is only as good as the assumptions which were incorporated in its manufacture, and driving on "plan autopilot" (i.e., without making observations, monitoring progress and swerving, braking or accelerating as necessary in response to an inaccurate map or GPS ) can be absolutely lethal.

Here are some observations to be acted upon, and to be incorporated in both processes:

1) Both planning and management are dynamic and interactive processes. Neither functions properly without the input of the other, and both must be amenable to some flexibility and adaptation as new knowledge is unearthed and as the contextual scenario (the environment) changes;

2) Process and progress monitoring must be frequent, with any issues being noted and reported by managers to planners, as well as vice versa;

3) Rather than viewing a change in the route as a variation or deviation from the plan, it must, of necessity be viewed as a response to either a change in plans, or in anticipation of a change in plans;

4) Communications must be as frequent as possible, with open, receptive dialogue - both parties have a shared interest in achieving the cited goal, and this is more important than either blindly 'sticking to the plan' or proceeding along a substantially different path (on the part of management) in disregard for the planning process;

5) Part of planning requires review and adaptation. Attaining a goal is an iterative, continuous process. It necessitates coordination (here comes a terribly trite metaphor, which is probably why you'll remember it) and real-time communication between the pilot and the control tower if the plane is to land safely, with all passengers and cargo undamaged.

Planning and management must be dynamic and interactive within any operation or organization. This requires observation, timely and candid communications, modifications (as may be prudent and required for course correction), and often an adjustment in expectations. Command and control require collaboration, cooperation and mutual respect.

Ultimately, the success in attaining any agreed-upon goal will be due to the optimal combination of Human intelligence, observation, communication, adaptability and mutual respect.

This would seem to be so simple. Yet it represents the greatest challenge in planning and management. In all of the Project Manager and Strategic Planner conversations, you'll generally hear a great deal of techno-speak and acronyms, but very little along the lines of  "How are things progressing? How are you doing? Are you noticing any problems? Should we be doing anything differently? We would appreciate your input."

We will surely fail at attaining our greatest and most noble objectives if we insist on sterilizing and De-Humanizing the setting of goals, the construction of plans, and the management of real live people as well as of flow-chartable processes and programs.

It is time to abandon the rhetoric, the acronyms and the hyper-specialization vacuum and time to get back into the business of working together harmoniously.

Douglas E Castle, at http://aboutDouglasCastle.blogspot.com





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