20 October, 2015

The Planning Process – YOLO

The Planning Process – YOLO

The art of planning sometimes seems to be a dying one! With sayings such as ‘You only live once’ and a living in the moment mindset, sound planning which takes time, effort and considerable engagement doesn’t quite seem to fit.

I am all for living in the moment and taking the time to enjoy the situation around me – not thinking about, ‘what if this happens?’ and missing out on enjoying things.

But has this attitude now influenced the way we plan (or don’t plan) for those things that we should really be spending time and effort thinking in depth about? I think that it has and that is why I want to bring back the 6 Step Shuffle!

I was bought up in my early professional years on the Military Planning Process. A failure to use it effectively prior to briefing my Boss usually meant hours more work after being told that my plan was not meeting expectations!

My six step process

It is a process I use both deliberately and sub-consciously when working with all of my clients. It is 6-Steps and the shuffle comes in as you bounce back and forth through the process.

  • Step 1: Analysis of the operational environment: What is happening around you.
  • Step 2: Guidance: Seek the guidance and views of those you trust, especially your staff, volunteers, coaches etc. They will see the operational environment different to you potentially.
  • Step 3: Mission Analysis: What is it that needs to be achieved. How does this relate to your strategic plan, your vision or where you want to be heading? Make sure that this action is going to fit within the strategic plan for your organisation.
  • Step 4: Course of Action Development: Start to develop a range of ways that you could solve this problem you have identified. Put down everything, even if you think it is not going to work. There could be elements of an unworkable plan that could make a good plan be great.
  • Step 5: Course of Action Analysis and Selection: Take each plan and ask ‘what if’. What if this happened at this stage, what would be the result. Does the plan still work or does it fall apart? Adjust it and carry on. This is where the parts that you had in one plan can come into another and a sound plan is created.
  • Step 6: Develop Concept of Operations and Plan: Take the best bits of all the plans and put them together to create the final plan to enact. But remember, that planning is a continual process, use the OODA loop to continually assess and adjust.

As the saying goes, No plan survives the first contact with the enemy. In other words, even though you have a plan, the enemy, your opponents or your customers won't always react the exact way you had planned. But with a sound plan, where you have looked at a range of possibilities, you will be able to quickly react and re-orientate.

© 2019 Paul Mead