Author: Felix Güßfeld, Assistant Consultant

11th of February 2019

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, writer and pilot

There are many catchwords to be heard in the office, but there is one specific that is inevitable: Planning.

„Plan your work and work your plan.“ As an imprint peeling of the coffee mug due to heavy dishwasher usage or as a mantra, this sentence has firmly established itself in our minds. Even Margaret Thatcher used it in its long form: “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.” Thus, it might be the most recusant heritage of the formal prime minister.
However, this inconspicuous word has crept into almost every part of our lives. Family planning, holiday planning, fitness planning and of course career planning. A confrontation in everyday life is unavoidable. Nevertheless, we need to ask ourselves which strategies help us, to manage the challenge of planning confidently? How do we integrate an efficient structure of planning into everyday working life?

It all comes down to brain science

Planning is human. It enables hierarchization, prioritization, efficient distribution of resources – in short, the development of complex social communities. But some people plan better than others. Why?
It is up to the brain, to be more specific: the posterior left-brain area. Due to neurological studies a natural dominance in this area causes an affinity to create and execute linear plans. Individuals with this characteristic are particularly capable to establish structures and adhere to them.
Everyone else loses out here. According to the mentioned studies 100 times more energy is necessary to change into planning mode. So, what to do if you did not hit the jackpot of the gene lottery?
First, do not despair. Up to today researchers have not found a common explanation about the link between personality and skills in connection with biological determination and individual development opportunities. The validity of the findings of the mentioned study is to be questioned as well. However, one thing gets clear: There are tips and tricks to become better at planning, because planning is human.

Type determination: A, B, C or more than a simple letter?

Everyone knows this situation: A new task or even a whole project is assigned to oneself. If one starts working right away, it is very likely that s/he is probably not characterized by brain dominance in the posterior left-brain area. For sure there is one thing that is not available at this point: a plan.
This results into consequences in the process. Further requests about the objectives need to be clarified, tasks need to be redistributed and deadlines will not be fulfilled. The increased need for communication delays the procedure because of waiting times and forced breaks. The quality of the work is decreasing due to correction needs. If the only continuity within the process is interruption, high quality work will not be achieved.
Therefore, you first need to understand the objectives and correspondingly define them. What does the client want? Whoever asks this question at the end of the work process is most likely lost. Nonetheless, no one has ever complained about knowing the objectives too early.
To ease the planning process, it is helpful to determine your planning type.

These schemes are expandable, but they show different patterns of thoughts and affinities. To find the very own approach for planning is a challenge, which accompanies everyday work life. Whoever knows his/her own way of working has a clear advantage. It is also certain to say: Plans do fail. The will to plan should not break because of that. Try a different planning approach for the next time. This might be a step towards the right direction. The goal is, to improve the quality of work and to gain more time for the more relevant tasks.

Concepts are not enough

Planning is a key competence especially for management consulting, but which approach is applied by SOICON?
SOICON’s strength lies in the variety of perspectives and approaches. Every employee is characterized by an individual perspective on problems and a unique approach to solve those. This also implies: Everyone thinks differently. How does that not result into a big headache in the SOICON brain?
We plan! A continuous optimization of our procedures ensures a well-balanced supply for all parts of our brain. This means to develop efficient approaches to set up solutions. We brainstorm together with our clients. Visualization and descriptions of measurable results are an integral component of our planning. Transparent processes enable us to expand the team to react on time, because: We plan as a team and we think as a team.
The implementation of a shared planning structure enables us, to synchronize our thinking processes and perspectives and to use them operational. This builds up the competence to give individual and sustainable advice to our clients. Detail oriented work is our focus. Therefore no one should be afraid of gathering a complete overview of a situation. A complex problem demands thinking throughout all levels. Therefore, SOICON uses agile methods and iterative work processes. This results into holistic analyses with various perspectives and solutions. Due to an efficient planning, we prevent dead ends already in an early stage.
This also contains a comprehensive scoping from the beginning. The result is obvious from the beginning. Therefore, backward planning is possible. Partial steps are defined as milestones and transparent supply chains are set up for the client as well as for SOICON. This ensures a controllability of the processes and costs to provide a fair process. Milestones as well as the entire process can be iterated and undergo constant quality checks.

Still there is one thing that should always be on our mind: The ONE plan does not exist, because there is not just that ONE solution. Only those who possess a clear process structure and culture can seek out for new strategies. Therefore, we say: Yes, we plan!

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