Looking forward, looking back

I’m a huge fan of performance indicators. The notion of using specific metrics to assess how well an organisation is doing and to better understand the environment in which it is operating can be incredibly powerful. Provided, of course, that we’re looking at the right metrics. But too many organisation focus on historic data. This means that they’re looking backwards, when they should be looking ahead.

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Breaking the taboo about failure

Nobody likes an Eeyore. When we’re planning new projects, it’s tempting to focus on the positives and to gloss over all of the things that could go wrong. That’s partly human nature and partly a desire to get the go-ahead to do whatever we want to do. The problem with this, though, is that when things do go awry, as they have an inevitable tendency to do, it can catch everyone very much on the hop.

But what if we could think about project risks without looking as if we’re trying to jinx the whole thing? And what if we could benefit from 20:20 hindsight right at the start? Welcome to the world of prospective hindsight.

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Think systems, not goals

As the end of the year draws closer, our attention turns inevitably to what we want to achieve in the twelve months to come. It might be a personal goal or a professional one. Or perhaps something for our team. Or for the organisation as a whole. But setting ourselves goals and targets might not, it turns out, be the best way to go at all. Continue reading “Think systems, not goals”

Is it time to say goodbye to the annual planning cycle?

As we make our way steadily into the new year, most of us will have an idea of what we would have like to have achieved by the time Christmas comes around again. It seems like we have all the time in the world. Yet as the year progresses, our grand plans so often get lost in the mass of other ‘stuff’ that accumulates as the months progress. This annual cycle of planning and doing might have worked well when we were all farmers, tied to the rhythm of the seasons. But is it still the best way to get things done? Continue reading “Is it time to say goodbye to the annual planning cycle?”

Iteration, iteration, iteration

Business planning is an important part of setting up or running any organisation. It helps us to establish what we will do, how we will do it and how we will finance our activities. But it can be incredibly difficult to forecast exactly what is going to happen in the future. This means that the business plans we have slaved over for months can very easily become obsolete within weeks, if not days. So here’s an alternative approach: iteration. Continue reading “Iteration, iteration, iteration”