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Planning to fail?

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Failing to plan, is planning to fail.

This article is a sequel to an earlier article Sir, we might have a problem

As owner and head of my own manufacturing organisation, initially I had to face numerous embarrassments because of failed commitments to customers. Commitments that had been made by me or members of my team.

We all face this problem. Colleagues, subordinates or even we ourselves fail to deliver on commitments. Monday comes and goes and then another Monday passes by as we fail to deliver. We land up with muck on our face and our reputations. We also lose both our money and our sanity.

Failure often occurs due to bad or no planning. Here is an approach that I adopted and it worked very well.

It seems that one of the most difficult thing for most people to do is, to sit down, think, focus and plan out things in detail. Thinking, analysing, planning are the bane of most humans because, it is intellectually demanding and can be exhausting. Rarely if ever has any great success has taken place without focus and planning.

Most commitments are made based on a cocktail of optimism, hunches and guesstimates. In 90% of the cases there is no workable underlying plan for achieving an objective or goal, if there is a plan at all.

The devil is in the detail.

I did not accept commitments on face value and demand to look into the underlying assumptions and planning details. No details means the commitment stands on a weak foundation.

Going back in Time - Yasmine Gateau

Verbal plans are unacceptable, A documented plan based on valid assumptions, logic, and responsibility is a must. Focus on the 5W and 1H that is who does what, where, when, why and how had to be very clear.

All people responsible for resources had to be consulted and their acceptance and commitment confirming the plan was always obtained, usually in writing. (People are more careful when they sign off on a document.)

Fortunately we had competent and committed people in our team. All that was necessary from me was to simply support the team with necessary resources and then got out of the way.

Planning and doing is just one part, with some luck a good plan works out perfectly. However usually somethings simply do not happen as planned, thus regular reviews and corrective action are essential. I had learnt the hard way that, "What is not reviewed is not done"

Effective planning makes life so much easier. Before we started this approach our 'On Time Delivery' success rate was 21% and within 3 years it had reached 98%.

It is lighter on the pocket and invest fewer resources in good planning rather than spend a lot more and take much longer to fix problems caused by bad or ineffective planning.

That is why effective people and organisations can rarely be seen complaining or working furiously, they appear calm and almost bored while achieving so much.


From the Seminar 'Becoming World Class'

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