Factor 15: Planning vs. Action

This factor deals with planning orientation versus action orientation.

Factor extremes as measured in survey:

The organization structure is planning-oriented(analysis/paralysis syndrome)


The organization structure is action-oriented (hip-shooting syndrome)

Overview to restructuring initiatives

There is no doubt that top level management sets a tone for the planning process; is it exciting, an opportunity to bring forth new directions, or simply an exercise engaged in to satisfy corporate needs. Neither of the extremes measured in this Factor are likely to be found in successful companies.

Planning processes (both strategic and budget oriented) benefit the organization only if they have the objective of moving the organization forward. As such corporate planning efforts need to accomplish several objectives. Planning needs to result in identifying problems, solutions, and opportunities. Planning needs to draw people together with an emphasis on creating the many actions that are necessary to implement the strategic plan. Planning is not just a budgeting procedure—as was the case many years ago when the emphasis was very much on financial planning only. Planning is about taking action.

Possible Initiatives to Modify and Improve the Culture for Innovation

Decentralize the planning process

Within reason, the smaller the business, the more entrepreneurial the culture. The challenge for companies as they become larger is to retain their original culture but at the same time recognize that, with size, comes hierarchy, more internal controls, more transparency of information, greater governance, and all the procedures necessary in today’s complex corporate environment. An iterative process, wherein management first sets up the broad goals of the corporation and the criteria which are expected to be met, is an ideal arrangement for allowing decentralized and therefore smaller business units to plan and bring forth their ideas.

Make use of staff (including outside consultants) versus line positions in the planning process

Ideally, staff functions should be asked to participate in the planning process from the outset. Often this does not happen and at the last minute staffers are assigned to help out. As a consequence their role might be perceived as vetting the plan and blocking the effort rather than working as part of the team.

Outside consultants can often play a role of being the facilitator of the planning process and because of his/her style and knowledge, bring an objectivity to the process that would not otherwise be in place.

Take advantage of the availability of information by pushing the limits on traditional sources

With the advent of the internet and IT corporate arrangements, sources of information have emerged and can be tapped to bring greater certainty to the planning process.

End up with action oriented statements

In the end, the planning process needs to cause action. A useful step at, or near the completion of the planning process, is to step back and ask the question: are the actions that have been proposed in alignment with the planning decisions. Look for alignment, level of effort, and consistency.