Problem No. 7: Thinking we know how to lead and manage our unit or department.
Best Practice: A three-year business plan should be a requirement for all staff departments and line business units.
Most of us began our careers as individual professionals, no matter our level of education, and then later moved into a management role. The question as to whether or not we have the skills and competencies to manage a group of people called a department with employees is a different question than just our professional/technical knowledge.
These competencies to lead and manage a group or team of employees to achieve objectives are not automatically a set of skills all of us have been trained to have. Peter Drucker once said the only place where leadership was taught in schools was at the service academies—Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard (state-run versions as well—Virginia Military Academy, etc.).
For instance, at the executive level of organizations, the competencies to develop and implement strategic plans are crucial. Our number one premise has been that "planning and change are the primary job of leaders." This premise is also true for first-line and middle managers who, as we have said, usually do not have these competencies because they have probably never been trained or educated to perform this No. 1 function of management.
However, developing a three-year business plan (and not just an annual operating plan) for each departmental manager should be a mandatory requirement after the organization has developed its overall strategic plan. This is a cascade of planning and best practices. While this is sometimes required of line managers who run lines of business, business units, or strategic business units, it is rarely required of staff departments and staff managers. In the realm of strategic thinking, staff units are often given a free pass when it comes to strategic thinking, strategic planning, and strategic change.
This is wrong and a serious mistake made by many organizations, public and private alike. The good news is these three-year business plans follow the Best Practice ABCs Systems Model on the previous pages. With Systems Thinking, there is no new organizing framework and language to learn, just another application of strategic thinking, only now on a three-year basis.
It is quite sad that very few politicians ever have a three-year business plan—and it's even more rare that cities, states, or countries have a strategic plan. Of course, the notable exceptions include Singapore and Dubai with their obvious positive results. Singapore has had one continuously since 1971, and it's a major reason why it is called Singapore Inc.
The really sad part, even more so, is the best way to win an election is to have a positive vision as Candidate Obama did—and a three-year business plan for your elected area. No wonder our politicians are so poorly thought of. Their main plan is to get re-elected.
Actually, I would be happy if they just had a set of core values and walked the talk on them.
The field of strategic planning seems to not understand that a plan without execution is nothing. And the execution is not the strategic plan itself but rather the cascade of that plan to the business units and major staff functional areas. These areas need their own three-year business plans along with the annual top priority actions to execute their business plan and the corporate-wide priorities.
We do not implement a strategic plan but an annual plan BASED on the strategic plan.
Training and Consulting Example:
Do you know of any training department (or HR, planning, or finance department) that has a three-year business plan based on the corporate strategic plan? Very few have I seen despite the fact that this is proven research on what we know works. Want to know why staff grounds are so poorly thought of? Try the lack of a plan.
Our book, "Destination Thinking," is designed as a Guide for three-year business plans for business units and major staff functional areas both. Buy it!!
For related knowledge and best practices (Article: Code A3YRBP), click here.
Model: Code MRSP-03: click here.
Instrument: Code IOC: click here