by Richard Martin
Last week we looked at the “future paradox.” The further into the future one looks, the greater the uncertainty. Parallel with this, the lead time for complex initiatives and plans and the lag time between intentions and realization can sometimes be years. We must therefore commit now for things in the future even while not having a full appreciation of the conditions that will prevail when our plans come to fruition.
I’ve developed the following yearly planning framework as a cyclical process to offset future uncertainty and rapid change with regular performance assessments and updating of forecasts, assumptions, and decisions.
This leads to a rolling 3-year forecasting and planning cycle. Think of it as a rolling barrage that overcomes the future paradox. The cycle can shorter or longer depending on your environmental and organizational realities. (I assume that fiscal year = calendar year.)
January: Review the previous year’s results and compare them to what had been anticipated and planned. Prepare for the annual strategy and forecasting retreat.
February-March: Conduct the annual strategy and forecasting retreat. The aim is to confirm the current year’s plans, develop guidance for planning the next year (starting in 9-10 months’ time), and develop outline forecasts and plans for the following one or two years after next.
April-May: Issue guidance for next fiscal year so that the entire organization can identify their planning focus and prepare to hit the ground running when the next year starts. These plans should be briefed up the “chain of command” so they are fully aligned with the strategic and operational guidance and direction.
June: Review performance of first half and adjust plans and focus to end of current year. Submit initial budget forecasts, especially for funding of special projects, new product development, marketing initiatives, etc.
July-August: Senior leadership reviews long-term plans and projects under the 2-3 year forecasting framework. Budgets and plans at all levels are reviewed and adjusted in accordance with strategic forecasts and intent for next fiscal year (starting in 4-5 months).
September: Senior leadership confirms overall budgets and plans for next fiscal year and issues updated guidance and direction to organization. Subordinate elements of the organization adjust their plans and forecasts to align with this guidance.
October: Senior leadership reviews year-to-date and issues guidance and direction to end of current year. Can hold a visioning and scenario-based planning retreat to identify potential opportunities and threats in next 3-5 years and to feed planning and preparation for next year’s forecasting and strategy cycle.
October-November: Organizational elements conduct detailed implementation planning and organizing to be ready to implement projects and initiatives in next year.
December: Overall review of cyclical process with recommendations to amend for improved efficiency and effectiveness in next year.
Remember Richard’s Business Readiness Process in 2017!
- Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
- Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
- Activate organization or team.
- Conduct reconnaissance.
- Do detailed situational estimate.
- Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
- Perform risk management and contingency planning.
- Communicate plan and issue direction.
- Build organizational robustness.
- Ensure operational continuity.
- Lead and control execution.
- Assess performance.
Call me for a Business Readiness Briefing!
My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.
© 2017 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.