When you hear for the first time that management should be "goal-oriented and planless", many people shake their heads at what nonsense I am talking about. After all, all managers and executives have already absorbed with their mother's milk how "straight" management is: 1. develop a vision and strategy, 2. work out a plan and 3. work through it meticulously.
Target-oriented? Of course! But planless? What a stupid idea!
But by "planless" I mean the crucial art of constantly focusing on what really counts, beyond the plan, before and during implementation: the result. Every strategy implementation, every market launch and every customer acquisition is like conquering an unknown mountain on a bike. But you can't plan a mountain you don't know!
The summit is clear, the mountain is the secret
We always have our goal - our summit - in front of our eyes, but we have no idea what is waiting around the next bend. A sweaty climb? Treacherous serpentines? Or a shady plateau with a few leisurely bike turns? Not to mention heat accumulation and headwinds. It's the same with our plans and their control: most of the time, all this is a waste of time and energy. We simply don't know how it will go. The goal, the result, is crucial, not just the rigid plan! A simple truth that we forget far too often. But the temptation is great. Often, with our way of planning, controlling and managing, we destroy the chance of real implementation momentum, that is, the time and state in which work is done intensively, in which the team makes great progress and does not even perceive this as exhausting.
Every implementation is new territory
Whether it's a strategy implementation, a project or a change - every project is usually new territory that no one else has entered before us. No one has conquered the market with exactly this team or this product before, and no one has built the wind farm where we will build it. We only know the peak we want to get to. There is no map, no standard and no best practice for the mountain itself.
Courage to stand by this realisation
I know very few people who really practise so-called " target-oriented planlessness" consistently in order to make their strategies become reality quickly with real momentum for implementation. Most of them draw up plans and pretend to the steering committees and supervisory boards that they know exactly what will happen when and how, although they know better and hope that these committees and supervisory boards should actually know that too. A lot of work is created that no longer has much to do with the actual result, the achievement of goals and their implementation. In one of these often time-consuming supervisory board meetings, one of these gentlemen asked me: "How exactly do you proceed now?" My answer: "I have no idea. That remains to be seen." - Was this answer inappropriate? No, it was honest but for these gentlemen, who for years have only operated according to rigid inflexible plans, it was clearly wrong and did not fit into their planning rigid construct.
With great discipline, we keep calibrating our team to the result throughout the implementation to avoid pure "input activities". Let's forget off-the-shelf status reporting that only targets activities and has no results orientation. But isn't the alternative a dangerous mixture of opportunism and actionism - just naive planlessness? No, skilful implementation management consistently eliminates everything that has nothing to do with achieving the goal. And that starts with fruitless planning and control. This does not mean that one should not plan roughly, but one must definitely retain the flexibility to adapt this plan at any time or even throw it overboard completely.
Only when the overall goal is clear to us, has been broken down into individual pieces, and those responsible for these puzzle pieces are clear about their goal and how they fit together, do we turn our attention to the how. We explicitly do not plan the big picture in order to then control the iron-hard fixed path through activities. Instead, we discipline ourselves into individual, flexible implementation steps. For example, every fortnight we sit down with the teams and ask ourselves:
- What exactly do we want to achieve and how do we notice that we are making progress?
- What makes us certain or uncertain that we will achieve it?
- What specifically needs to be achieved next?
Indispensable: We think and speak only in terms of results, not in terms of activities. With these few rules, we can better manage every implementation. From now on, let's enjoy moving forward quickly and safely.
Your team from LAMA Bushings.