The TARDIS Can’t Help You Find The Time And Space You Need To Plan

Managers need to find the time to look forward and back for
increased clear thinking and effective strategic planning.

Small things matter! Gaining control of your schedule is not only vital for work-life balance and your role as an effective day-to-day manager but is also essential for strategic planning.

My company’s motto is Examine -– Consider – Evolve for a reason. Sound strategic planning requires a clear headspace for all members of the planning team and management. A key strength of the Haines system is the first step ‘plan to plan’. This means that the resources need to be found to create and implement the strategy. The most valuable and hardest aspect of this step is to find the time to do this.

A clearly allocated timeframe will allow you to not only look forward but also reflect on what has been. I have already encountered organisations that have wildly variable levels of self-awareness. The greater the level of awareness, the better the strategic plan. This reflection on the past and understanding of your present state is as important as visualisation of the future. Indeed, both my mentor and I have entered strategic planning sessions where little actual strategic planning was achieved. As part of a necessary process, we focused on resolving critical ‘here and now’ issues, including widely divergent views on what the organisation should be doing day-to-day, unresolved personality issues, and misplaced overly optimistic assessments of the current state of the organisation. A strategy sitting on a sandy foundation, regardless of the quality of the planning itself will end up in the same place as a bad plan.

The other important aspect of finding time for clear thinking and initial strategic planning is that it establishes a recurring habit. Your plan will need continuous review and monitoring. That requires finding time routinely to assess the progress of the plan, verify that the organisation is, in fact, changing, and test and validate any initial assumptions. Just as important is finding the time to walk the floor, both for real and virtually, and discuss issues large and small with staff and customers. This will not only improve day-to-day operations but provide coalface feedback on how the strategic plan is progressing – not empirical evidence, but important glimpses.

Time is that most precious of resources, which strangely does not appear on the balance sheet.

About the Author:

Jason Thomas is the Founder of de Montaigne Strategic Planning, which provides robust strategic planning and training services to small to medium-sized enterprises, not-for-profit organisations and government departments.

He has over 30 years’ experience in senior leadership, operational and planning roles across the military, public and private sectors. In addition, Jason holds numerous degrees and qualifications including Gold Mastery Certification with the Haines Centre for Strategic Management.