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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