How many times have you been part of planning meetings in your organization and had the thought bubble float above your head saying, “This is a total waste of time. Our plan is going nowhere fast.” Whether you run a company, a non-profit, a business unit, or a department, you probably engage in some sort of planning. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of waste in the process because too many plans end up still-born instead of alive and vibrant.
I’ve recently been getting to know the work of Tom Paterson, a master planner for nearly 40 years. He was an associate of Peter Drucker’s and he often took the role of putting the great theorist’s ideas into practice. Tom has learned a few things over the years. And while it’s not fashionable in our latest-fad culture to admit it, I think we should stop and learn a few things from our elders.
One of Tom’s core principles is that perspective must precede planning. Tom did some work in China at the request of the Reagan administration and was greatly marked by the Asian approach to planning. Instead of rushing through to action planning, they spend time really understanding their organization’s history and current reality.
Tom likens it to climbing a mountain via switch-back trails instead of trying to race straight up the rock face. It’s probably faster in the long run and eventually, you reach the top and you gain a beautiful reward: perspective. Even better, if you climb that mountain with others, you gain a powerful benefit: shared perspective. For impatient Westerners, that shared perspective (while frustrating to gain) yields accelerated implementation when you actually put the plan in place.
So take a look at your next planning process. How much time are you spending on gaining shared perspective? What conscious activities have you put in place to help your leadership team really see what is happening? It’s the first step to making plans that work.
We welcome you to share the best methods you have experienced for gaining shared perspective. The more you share with the Noonday community, the more we will all gain from participating!