Planning the future?

Enterprises invest huge amount of energies in planning for the future. This practice is more common and structured in large and mature organizations than their smaller and younger peers. This is called Strategic planning process…many firms have dedicated resources typically composed of the most talented people who pass out of Ivy League schools. Common sense tells us, CEOs, Boards and Investors are most concerned about it and hence, they invest the top dollars on this function. I wonder why it’s so different in our daily lives!

Let’s think of some great people : living as well as dead across countries spanning various walks of life! Have we heard of them having created detailed plans of their future? Did they do scenario-planning and use any model to build the strategy? Surely not! It was their passion, self-confidence, humility, ambition, drive, courage to dream and walk the unbeaten path which made them great. If this is so, why do firms invest huge amount of resources like time, money and intellect in scripting the future? And even after writing many scripts, often there is a huge gap between what plays out in the market and what was scripted. Isn’t it enough reason to rationalize the planning function?

Of course, we need to plan! Without a plan, we don’t see the goal and hence, we reach nowhere. There is no doubt on the importance of planning. I am bothered about the attention it gets in B-schools and C-suites. I feel, strategic planning is seriously over-emphasised and over-invested.

In my opinion, we need to bring our folks together to dream, challenge the dreams, look around us, set ambitions and then start running towards it. The process must engage the hearts and the minds of the people. Many large firms focus so much on the intellectual capabilities and analytic prowess of their leaders that they exhaust their creativity to engage their own hearts. What about the hearts of their teams who are going to play the script?

Don’t we follow the simple steps of coming together, dreaming, looking around, thinking, challenging and setting the ambition when we plan our own future in a family? Isn’t this what we do when we plan a picnic or a vacation? Don’t we reach the goals? Aren’t we able to aim high? Yes, of course, we do! Then let’s get real and balance between our head and the heart! Let’s combine our intellectual strength with the emotional energies to produce some amazing results. The workplace will be wowed! Let’s do it!  


4 thoughts on “Planning the future?

  1. Thanks for sharing this Aditya.

    My work over the past few years has been in Strategy and Planning and I tend to agree that most strategic plans can whittle away if the execution is not upto the mark.

    However, I believe that the foundation of good planning is built on a clear direction and articulated expectation of outcomes. This, in my opinion is paramount before embarking on any strategic planning exercise. Also metrics should be included to measure short, medium and long term success.

    If not done with absolute clarity then as you rightly pointed out the exercise can be a disaster.


  2. Thanks Kartik for your thoughts! Sure, the directions and expectations of outcomes are important. However, many a times, the planning process gets reduced to a lot of number crunching and does not engage people emotionally. I feel, strategic planning processes in large organizations fail to engage the right mix of head and heart of their people. This is possibly due to their size and the culture of objective thinking. My belief is that an organization will get immense benefit only if engages both the heads and the hearts in this planning process.


  3. I heard the Ex Ceo if tata steel Moothuraman saying that he reached out to the bottom of the pyramid- to the floor's last layer for their opinion and feedback before he published the mission vision and way forward of the company. He didn't confined it to the board members. In a way he could achieve loyalty as the employees felt that its their own M V and motivated them to take onus of their work. Cummulative input in right direction with proper emotional involvement is bound to fetch desired result.

    This just popped up in mind once I read this blog. Excellent!


  4. Thanks, Dhritiman for the comment! Fully agree with your view that emotional connect makes the bond stronger irrespective of the context. Mahatma Gandhi could rouse the sentiments of the Indians by the emotional connect around nationhood and independence by talking about non-violence, peace, history and culture of our country, making the people realize what it could be if we were free from the British. So, he brought people together, dreamt of the future, made the people co-create the dream, learnt the best practices from other countries, periodically looked at the progress made and identified the right levers to push. It was a good combination of head and the heart at play. And the results are history for the world! So, I feel, it's simple and needs great execution as always!


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