Learning Provider Profile
Mr Provett is a Certified Learning Provider (CLP) at Appleton Greene and he has experience in management, marketing and human resources. He has achieved an MBA in Business and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He has industry experience within the following sectors: Automotive; Electronics; Manufacturing; Technology and Telecommunications. He has had commercial experience within the following countries: United States of America, or more specifically within the following cities: Detroit MI; New York NY; Austin TX; San Francisco CA and Raleigh NC. His personal achievements include: Prepared Next Generation of Leaders; Reorganized Companies For Growth; Transformation Small To Large Mindset; Smooth Transition Of Family Ownership/Governance and Improved Family Intergenerational Relationships. His service skills incorporate: strategic planning; process improvement; succession planning; estate management and operation management.
This workshop is intended to provide an introduction to strategic planning. This will include what strategic planning is, as compared to daily, tactical planning, why we do strategic planning, and the benefits of strategic planning. This workshop is the first step in a journey that when completed, will be transformative in how you make decisions and conduct your business. The process of strategic planning is one that most people have little, if any experience in. It has its own structure and methodologies which must be mastered to be successful.
During this workshop, you will be exposed to all of this and will be able to see where each piece fits. As the process of strategic planning is transformational, before starting on this journey, a firm foundation is essential, and this workshop provides that foundation. We will concentrate on the foundational documents of your organization, beginning with your mission, vision and values statements. Strategic planning requires that you know why you are in business. You are in business to create profits, but that is not all. Your business could be a family legacy and you are in business to provide a continuation of this legacy to future generations. Your business is a major contributor to the general financial health in your community. The larger the business and the smaller the community, the greater is the impact your business has on the people in the community.
Vision is the statement of your future, if you are true to your mission. Your vision of the company’s future can be to expand financially and be one of the top companies in your field. It could be to be the same size, but to be a more technologically one. Your business, building on today’s company, could be in a different field entirely. Your vision is entirely up to you and what you and your company can produce. The last foundational statement is your values statement. Values are the underlying principals upon which you base how your company operates. These company values are normally related to the leadership’s personal values, all though not always. These values are normally equated to moral justification and a company’s values will not be opposed by the personal values of the leadership.
Some value statements include a fairness to employees statement. These can be very wide in expression. Some examples might be only working in non-hazardous workplaces. If your business in mining, steel working, construction or farming, there are some hazard workplace conditions in each. Henry Ford’s view of work equals sweat, went back to his days of working on the farm. Hard work was expected, and he paid well for it. In today’s electronic workplaces, work is measured by output. Here efficiency can be used to generate the most output, or if used as a forceful tool, drive people away. Some companies are market driven and their values will be aimed at market share. Others are aimed at return on investment and they are aimed at higher profits. Neither is better that the other. They are just interested in success defined in different terms. Once the mission, vision and values are elucidated, the firm foundation upon which a strategic plan can be built, has been established.
1. Senior Executives / Ownership, the principals understand the strategic planning process.
2. Principals embrace strategic planning.
3. Principals recognize the resources necessary to properly prepare a strategic plan.
4. Principals recognize the time requirements for strategic planning for themselves and others in the organization and are willing to allocate that time necessary.
5. Determine company goals and policies.
6. Company mission aligned with actual company goals.
7. Company values aligned with actual company policies.
8. Company values reflect reality.
9. Company values aligned with ownership desires.
10. Company vision aligned with actual company goals.
11. Company vision aligned with ownership desires.
12. Principals have a commitment for success.
1. Educate principals on strategic planning, including examples of process and plans.
2. Demonstrate value of strategic planning by sharing examples of results with others.
3. Educate principals in resources required by viewing examples from others.
4. Educate principals in resource utilization required by viewing examples from others.
5. Ownership to verify goals and policies.
6. Team members present mission statement and their relationship to company goals.
7. Team members present values and their relationship to company policies.
8. Team members compare examples of actual values to value statement.
9. Ownership compares their values to company values and values observed.
10. Analyze vision statement to determine its actual end result vs. company goals.
11. Compare owner’s desires for vision vs reality.
12. Elicit from executives / ownership their commitment.
1. Prepare explanatory material expanding strategic planning, including life cycle chart, proposed schedule showing key milestones, and key elements of project. These materials to be presented to principals and all of their questions resolved.
2. Demonstrate value of strategic planning through sharing examples of actual results. Preparing these results and presenting the actual data.
3. Present a resource plan based on an actual strategic plan experience.
4. Present actual data on resource requirements and have principals verify their acceptance of the needed resources and time by their commitment to allow the resources involved in strategic planning adequate time to complete their tasks.
5. The principals will present the companies goals, near and long term, and policies that reflect the company vision and values.
6. Team members to present company mission statement and compare it to the company goals. Non-alignment will require further work.
7. Team members will present the company values statement and relate them to the actual company policies, both formal an informal. Non-alignment will require further work.
8. Team members will compare the values statement to actuality in daily actions. Non-alignment will require further work.
9. Principals will compare the company vision statement to determine its actual end result vs. the company goals.
10. Principals compare their values to the company values statement, and the values observed.
11. Principals compare the ownership’s desires for vision, vs. company goals as stated.
12. Elicit from principals and ownership their commitments by preparing a commitment document for all to sign.
We are starting on a long journey, from today’s guess of what the future has in store, to a more certain plan for the future. We are going to develop a plan that reflects our desires for the future, our abilities to do what is necessary to attain that future state. The future state is our long-term view for our future, perhaps twenty or twenty-five years into the future. The plan will also develop interim goals that will help to ensure that the future is what we wish. The process we will use is most likely unfamiliar, and even though you are skilled at your position, this will be new to you, and you may feel uncertain. That is not unusual as is all change. This will be a large change and will be uncomfortable. This may make you feel stressed and that is to be avoided. Being properly prepared is an antidote to stress and is paramount in our being successful.
So, how can you prepare for this workshop? First, we need to be comfortable with our study area. We need to have the time allocated so that we are not interrupted in our studies. We need to have a comfortable setting, so that we can study efficiently. You must think of all the things that could negatively impact your studying through distance-learning, especially if you have not ever used distance-learning in the past. It is far better to plan and feel in control, than to have to react to unanticipated intrusions. For time and place, I recommend you chose a place where you will be uninterrupted. A place which you can control and one in which you cannot be supplanted. You should also consider the time for your studies. You know what type of person you are. You know how you study, and which factors affect your study and retention most. Some people are morning people and are at their best before noon. Others find the mornings to be their least productive time. For the former, mornings are the best to schedule, for the latter, afternoon times make the most sense. Some people find a pastoral scene as stimulating, while others find them too restful and sleep inducing. Some study best in the quiet, while others need background noise or music to be truly able to study. You know your type best and should seek times and places that are most likely to ensure your particular success. You want to ensure success with your distance-learning, and the necessary follow up and preparation for it. You should schedule the distance-learning chapters and log them into your personal calendar and to any shared calendars, so that you and the rest of the organization know that your time is blocked out and cannot be changed.
In preparation for this first module, you need to examine potential study areas that would be suitable for the actual distance-learning sessions, as well as any pre-module and post-module work. Prepare a list of potential areas listing their positive and negative attributes. Be sure to include any others who routinely utilize these spaces. It is better to understand any potential conflicts prior to needing the space and working them out, than to be faced with no suitable unconflicted space when it is needed. Next, examine your calendar. Note where blocks of time are available for the distance-learning section of the module, as well as any other interactions related to the module. It is preferable to ensure that other responsibilities do not intrude on your study time, and only you, with proper planning can accomplish this. With data to use to determine time and place, you should now turn to the areas that are the first module’s focus.
In this first module we will be undertaking an analysis of your company‘s foundational beliefs and documents. In so doing, we discover the stated company objectives and how it sees itself operating in the marketplace. You will need to determine if your company has published a company mission, company vision, and company values. Most companies have developed them over time, and they can be useful, or are out of date. Values may not be so stated, but the company’s values are imbedded in the policies and procedures that are used. You should determine if your company has published such statements, or if they have not. Has your company established and published manuals for procedures, policies, or practices? Do you know where they are, and can you get access to them? We will need them in this module.
There is other data necessary for this module. We will use company financial data to ascertain the company’s present positions and to draw some inferences as to the future. The data we will use is that which has not been adjusted by the company’s accountants for tax or reporting purposes but is the data that shows operations and balance sheet information. We will use both income statements and balance sheets, as well as any other information required to reveal the financial picture of the company. If your company uses a board of directors, we will also want to study the reports made to the board at their regular board meetings. These will normally be in power point or the like format. If the company has done any forward planning, we need to examine the documentation of the plans. They may be titled business plans, financial plans, operating plans, or strategic plans. Title is not important. The plans are important in that they will show the company’s view of their probably future.
As a large part of strategic planning involves others, we normally construct a team, the strategic planning team, to provide input into the planning process. The team members are important to the ultimate success of the project, so selection of potential members is important. You should compile a list of candidates that you feel would be positive additions to the process. With the identification of the documentation needed in our study, and the ability to gain access to them defined, we ensure ourselves of good data. With your definition of space and time for most profitable study, you ensure you will gain the most for the distance-learning method.
With the data that you have identified as available, it is now time to firm up your plans. As you journey to a more planful future, you will need to be able to concentrate on your distance-learning studies.
The list of items that could have a negative impact on your ability to get the most out of your distance-learning experience needs to be thought through and plans made to overcome them. To this end, prepare a list of all that might interfere with your studies. The list should be fairly comprehensive. It is better to anticipate every eventuality and prepare a plan to offset it, than to wait for its occurrence and have to deal with it in real time. For each item, prepare plans to eliminate or mitigate its occurrence, or to prevent its happening. With plans prepared, you should be more comfortable when they appear.
Similarly, you should re-examine the places you have identified as potential study locations and eliminate all but the one most suited to you and your preferences. Prepare a list of all the attributes, both positive and negative, of each of the potential study locations. Compare them to your personal needs for you to be successful. You should be able to rank them in order of fulfilling your needs.
You now need to narrow your choices on time. Consider that you need to schedule three blocks of time for each module. One block will be to allocate the time necessary to perform any preparation efforts for the upcoming session. Another is the actual distance-learning presentation of the current module. The last is to prepare any follow up work from the current module. You will have to consider your personal calendar, but those others that affect you. Some of these are the general company calendars that may obligate you to attend meetings or conduct other business activities. You may attend board of directors meetings or other outside meetings. Customer meetings are important, and some can be scheduled while others cannot. You need to determine, as well as you can, when these calendar events will occur, and then set your calendar up so as to avoid possible conflicts. Regularity is an important attribute of success in any study program. So, I suggest that you set up your calendar on a rolling twelve months basis. Once this calendar is set, I would review it quarterly to ensure there are no changes that can’t be managed. Pick the times when you study most efficiently and set them as study times.
We need to ascertain the suitability of the company information that we will be using in our study. Now is the time to gather this data. The foundational documents, mission, vision, and values come first. You have earlier identified these three and now is the time to examine this data. The mission should be a statement of the company’s intent; and why it is in business. Some will be expanded to include corollary intentions.
A simple mission statement will include what the company does, either manufacture, sell, or provide a service; what it will provide to various stakeholders, employees, towns folk, industries; and a high-level statement of the company values, trusting business relations, providing superior customer experience. You need to test your mission to see if it truly defines why you are in business, and not just to make a profit, although that is a tacit understanding, and the impact the company makes on others beside ownership.
Your company vision may not be spelled out. Or it may not be long enough in term to have any meaning to junior members. A vision for three to five years is insufficient to anyone planning to be employed by the company for the next fifteen to twenty years. It may be sufficient for the more senior members, especially if they are planning to retire or sell in the near term. Examine the vision, if there is one spelled out, and see if it is long termed. If there is no vision visible, do not ask for one to be built. We will accomplish that later in the workshop.
Your policies say a lot about the company’s values. Read the absentee, vacation, travel and other policies relating to the interface between employees and the company. You will usually discovery that there is a theme running through the policies. In may be that the policies are written in a punitive manner. If this occurs, you will receive these demerits. An example is, all employees will punch in at the start of their shift, punch out and back in for lunch and breaks, and punch out at the end of the shift. Violators to this policy will be docked two hours. It may be that they are written in a more familial way. Employees are required to punch in and out at the beginning and end of their shifts. Supervisors will monitor performance and take remedial action as needed. By reading the policies, you will be able to ascertain the true nature of the company values.
Company financial data is important to be able to determine the company’s health and its ability to move into the future. You should assess the financial reports to see if they are timely and current. Be sure you have access to the operating financials, those that show how well the company is performing its mission. The data we will use should be historic information and current reporting. Examining the combination will enable us to predict, as well as anyone can, the potential future of the company, financially. Board of Directors reports, along with other executive level reports made by the senior executives regarding their accountabilities, reveal what the executives feel is the future. They will naturally be biased as the executives who write them are. A CFO is paid to avoid financial missteps and will tend to be more conservative than a sales executive whose outlook is normally more optimistic. Knowing this, we can give varying weights to the various executive reports. When examining all of the data, your job is to determine if it is sufficient to tell the company story, and to enable forecasting the future within allowable variance.
Normally strategic planning requires the expertise of more than one individual and strategic planning teams are usually used. These teams can have from four to twenty members, with eight core members being optimal. At this point, you should be in the position to narrow your list of potential team members down to those who you will eventually nominate to be on the strategic planning team.
With the above accomplished, you are now ready to do the final preparation for this workshop.
With the work you have done above, you are now ready to complete your planning for this workshop. The first task is to finalize the place in which you will conduct your distance-learning workshop. As you will recall, the location in which you engage in distance-learning must be selected with care. You will be spending a lot of time in this space, so it must be comfortable and conducive to learning. As Distance-learning is a unique type of education, so will the space in which you receive it be unique. It will be unique in the sense of its suitability to your best learning environment. Now that you have analyzed the potential spaces, select the one best suited for you and ensure that it will be yours during the conducting of workshop sessions, as well as any pre and post workshop assignments.
You have examined what times you will need to conduct the workshops, and the necessary adjunct work for them. You have also selected the times when you believe you perform best, especially with the new experience of distance-learning. In selecting the times and the place, or places, for distance-learning, pre and post meeting work, and when you form your strategic planning team and team meetings, you may encounter the situation of other priorities overruling your desires. If this is the case, you will have to negotiate with those people who have conflicting desires, and with them, settle on places and times that work for all. Once this has been accomplished, set the dates and the facilities on the master schedule so that everyone will be aware of your needs and your requirement will be secure. With your schedule set and your meeting locations secured, we move on to data organization.
You have examined the data that is available and determined its suitability. This data will form the foundation for much analysis and needs to be formulated in a rationale way. You will need to sort and collate the information into logical blocks. One block will be financial information. In this block will be assembled all of the financial reports, including balance sheet and income data. Also, data involved in production and sales of a financial nature will be included. Another block will be all of the performance data, separated by discipline. There should be data for all areas including sales, production, product development, transportation, logistics, human resources, information technology, and the like. Some of the financial data will be of duel function, in that it reports financial data at the same time showing performance. In this case, duplicate the date and put one copy in one block and the other in the second. Once you have all the data assembled, form it into a data book, either physical or electronic or both, with clear divisions as to which data is in which section. A hierarchy of physical tabs or electron folders will fit the bill admirably. Use the method with which you are most conversant and most comfortable.
It is now time to determine the place and times that you will undertake the distance-learning part of the workshop. You have examined various venues to determine suitability. From the possible venues you will select one for conducting distance-learning. You should also select an alternate if, despite all your planning, your primary choice becomes unavailable. Once selected, your primary selection should serve as a constant aid in your success. If you are using a company resource and have the ability to do so, it should be reserved for a rolling twelve-month period. For pre and post distance-learning work, you will select a location that meets your working requirements. If these locations are not under your control, they should also be reserved for a rolling twelve-month period. This will help to enable you to have stability in location. Similarly, you need to firm up your distance-learning, pre-module and post-module times. The combination of reserving times and places will enable you to be more comfortable and successful in the process.
As you will be using a strategic planning team, it is now time to make the final selection of the team members. You have a list of candidates from which to choose. From this list, you are to select the ones who will bring the most to the team. They must be intelligent, team success oriented rather than self-centered, able to see the views of others, and mildly assertive. They must have the respect of those in the company from all levels, above and below, as well as peers. The team will be working together for a long time, possibly over many years. The team culture must be constantly one of mutual support, but with freedom to disagree with others in a respectful manner.
Success in the selection of team members will also depend on their availability. As you will be selecting the high performers in the company, expect push back from their organizational leadership. No one likes to have their high performer no longer available full time. The upside to everyone is that membership in the strategic planning team will give its members exposure to other disciplines that they might not ordinarily have. This will make them better employees and more promotable. Many companies utilize the strategic planning team to train their high performers and to prepare them for even higher roles. Plan to meet with the candidate supervisors and department heads to gain ready acceptance of their resources as team members. Once the leadership has given their acceptance, invite the team members to an introductory meeting. At the meeting, you will introduce them to the process, their commitment, and the company’s reliance on them. With the team members selected, it is now time to schedule the team meeting. They will be implemented on the same schedule as you have used, The team should meet before and after your distance-learning session. They will have much to do.
As the program progresses, the team will have strategy sessions which will include others not on the team. Depending on where in the development or implementation of a strategy or strategic plan, the team will be undertaking action items necessary for success. These team meetings will need to be scheduled in the company calendar as they will impact more than just the strategic planning team. Over time, they will become an integral part of the company culture relating to problem discover, analysis, and resolution. You will also have to schedule strategic planning team meetings between the distance-learning session. These are necessary for all team members to have the same understanding of the last distance-learning session, as well as to prepare for the next one. Team members will be able to discuss the last, and past, sessions so that there is a common understanding of the content.
With the study plan developed, it is now up to you to manage the plan to ensure its success. There are many areas which will require management.
Team – The team that will accomplish most of the success will have to be managed. The team is an amalgam of various members of the company. As such, each will have differing expertise, knowledge, and histories. Managing the team is utilizing these differences to form a cohesive group with one objective. As team members have varying departmental objectives, it should be expected that they will bring them to the team and assume that they are the team’s objectives. And they may well be correct. Some team members may propose that the various departmental objectives be the team’s. But the team will have other objectives, some of which may be contra to some departmental ones. A revenue target might be one of the team objectives which can be interpreted as a sales target, or a pricing target, or a new product objective, or a mass of others. A growth target is seen by some as increasing revenue, by others as decreasing costs. The individual department targets may draw the team from their team tasks and into inter-departmental squabbling. Managing the team means that this cannot be allowed to derail the team and it efforts. The differences in the personalities of the team members makes team management extremely important.
People Management – Its members will have personal schedules that must be accommodated. They will have business responsibilities that may get in the way of team business. You will have to manage the various priorities. In managing people, you have to be aware of their interests and aspirations. A team member who is engaged in the project and who wants to use his success with the team to gain a better position with the company is a self-motivated individual. On the other hand, a team member who is really not interested in the team’s success and is not motivated by promotional possibilities will not be as good a team member. It is up to you to provide the motivation to both parties to be successful. It is just easier with the former. You will have to manage the team members managers. For the most part, team members are selected with a view to their potential contribution to the team’s efforts. They, therefore, are the high performers in the company, and their managers depend on them for their department success. There may be a tug-of-war for the time of these premium people. They may feel that they are in the middle and no matter what, they cannot win. If this situation is allowed to exist, the risk could be the loss of a high performer. Managing the team members managers and negotiating with them can make a seemingly insurmountable problem be resolved.
Time Management – Time is a resource that is finite. When it is gone, it is gone. Your team will only have so much time to spend on strategic planning and you will have to make the most of it. You will have to manage time in varying circumstances. You will have to ensure the team prepares all of the required distance learning materials prior to the next distance learning session. Some of this will be follow up items from the last session. Some will be new items to accomplish in preparation for the next session.
Managing the team and its members, so that they accomplish their pre work will be an important item on your management calendar and a key to success in the workshop. Each distance learning session can be expected to result in several follow up items. These must be satisfactorily accomplished before the next distance learning session, unless a longer due date has been assigned. The distance learning sessions must also be managed to ensure that they are received completely and that the entire team receives the most benefit from the session. During the sessions, it is imperative that the team be attentive and participate as necessary. This is, after all, a learning environment and should be treated as such. Between sessions, team meetings may be scheduled or more informally conducted. These meetings should be used to assess the team’s accomplishments with the follow-up actions generated at the last session, preparedness for the next session, and as a team building experience. The success of the workshop is based on the team and it is rational to build the team’s personality.
It is to be anticipated that various team members will be assigned various tasks to further the team’s objectives. They will take the form of action items, with a description of the task, the person to whom the actions assigned, and a due date for completion of the item. These action item lists are a powerful tool in the management of actions that must be completed by a certain time. They hold the action assignee to task for completion and due date. If, however, they are used without due consideration, they may not be effective. An item which will require three months to resolve cannot be given a due date of one month, The action assignee will just be frustrated and defeated before starting. It is tempting to say, “we need this done by an impossible date, but we must be realistic on our action assignments”. In the same vein, we must not be over generous with due dates. An item with too long a due date will normally not receive any work until the due date becomes more current. This is a situation fought with the possibility failure. You should also be aware of the total workload of the individual team members and not allow them to be over loaded. That leads to unsatisfactory results.
Schedule – Linked to time management, is schedule management. We will establish key milestones and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can monitor our performance and tell if we are on track or not. The first step is to build a Gantt chart with all of the implementation milestones accounted for. Each track of this chart will describe a task with its expected completion dates. The sum of the milestones is success for the project if they are completed on schedule. Success must be defined in terms of metrics and schedule. If a task is deemed completed, but the metric signifying successful completion has not been attained, the task is not completed. Implementation is the most difficult part of a project. If left unmanaged, a project can get off track and no one might be aware of it until it is failing. It is incumbent on you that you manage the projects to success.
For our workshop we will need to construct a series of schedules. I recommend an overview schedule showing the entire process of the workshop, and a series of intermediary schedules reflecting a portion of the overview schedule. Normally these intermediate schedules will be for three to six months duration and will show more details than the overview. They will both show the same key milestones. Using these schedules, you will be able to see that you and the team are progressing at a satisfactory pace or not. With your project schedules, if will be obvious when a project is not on track. When that happens, it is up to you to determine what the cause of the difficulty is, and to implement corrective actions to overcome the difficulty. You must be able to self-assess the team’s and your progress. The self-assessment should include your analysis of what went wrong that caused the poor performance. In the case of success, you should self-assess and ask what went right, so as to be able to identify successful actions and be able to repeat them when necessary. Schedules are a key tool in ensuring success in any project. However, to do so they must be accurate, they must be constructed with the best information on task duration, not just wishful guesses, and they must be updated as changes are encountered. And changes will be encountered.
Key Milestones – With any project, the end date is important, but to meet that date, various other dates, and key milestones, must be met. That is why milestones must be selected. These milestones can be tasks that must be completed before others can start. They may be percent completion of a long, large task. They can be anything that is important to project completion. The selection is up to the team. It is important that these millstones be recognized as key to project completion and not just sign posts along the way.
KPI’s – Success must be defined with metrics, so there is no argument as to the task’s being completed or not. These indicators can be dates for completion of specific tasks, and the success of that task. It is important to be able to define success for all tasks. Is it a success when all of the pre-determined parameters are measured and met? Is it met when senior management gives its approval? Whatever is success, it must be defined, or everyone will define it in their own way. If that is the case, some will say it is a success and others will differ. You will have to ensure that the KPI’s are generated to define success and that they are the only measures of it.
In order to generate key performance indicators, you must have your precise definition of what success is. Each task is different and will require its definition. The team must recognize that your definition is the only one acceptable to the team. If the team disagrees and can convince you another definition is more suitable, the definition can be changed, and all agree on it. It is important that you share with the team and that they understand that until a definition is officially changed, the definition remains the sole metric of success.
All key performance indicators should be able to pass the smart test. Smart is an acronym which stands for: specific; measurable; achievable; relevant; and time bound. If the indicator meets these tests, it will be usable. As an example, if the task to be completed is construct a sales budget by September 1 of this year, that is not enough. Although everyone thinks they know what a sales plan is, each has a different opinion. Does it include sales by customer, sales by salesperson, salesperson’s call plan, a sales budget, etc. Without proper up-front definition, there is no agreement as to what completion means. Similarly, completion must be able to be measured. There should be a concrete deliverable for every task. This can be a physical object, a written document, or a report that indicates that the objective has been met. In some cases, an agreement by everyone that the objective has be accomplished can suffice. If the indicator cannot be met, it will not be useful as a measure.
If it takes six weeks to run a test to see if a material will stand up to its intended use, expecting results in two weeks is not achievable and those associated with the measurement will see it as frivolous and a waste of their time and effort. The relevant test is one that can lead people astray. If an indicator is introduced that does not have any impact on the eventual outcome, the team members will know that and will not support it. Non-relevant indicators are time sinks. All of us have run into non-relevant measures and have referred to them in despairing ways as being of no use to the efforts. Only relevant indicators should be allowed. An indicator must be time bound. Without a due date most efforts drag on and on. More time and money is spent then should be. An indicator without a due date will impact all of the following activities, effecting the overall project. Managing the team’s tasks is a combination of all of the preceding management activities. It is your management responsibility to see that the right people are assigned to each task, that they are spending their time profitably, and working to the schedule.
Management is both an art and a science. The science is the use of kpi’s, schedules, and time management. The art is managing the people. Having your team perform at its best is a reflection on your ability to manage people. Good managers have good results and make it look easy, although it is not. Other managers work long hours, constantly micro-manage, and still get less than seller results.
When you have completed this workshop, we will review its outcome. The main thrust of reviewing our progress and actions is to ensure we have accomplished our objectives of this workshop so that we may prepare for the next and other workshops. Without reviewing progress, it is difficult if not impossible to know if we have been successful in our efforts or if we must remedy them. These reviews serve to make us better in our performance through the entire program. We do not want to repeat any negative actions, but we do want to repeat the positive ones. Negative actions can be caused by any of a myriad of factors, from our study space and time, our schedule, the team and its members, our expectations and others.
We will begin with your expectations. You will need to compile what you expected to be contained in the workshop, what you expected to learn from it, and what benefits you expected to experience. Then we will need to see what you did experience. What did the workshop content include? What were you expecting that was not in the workshop? What did you learn that was expected and what did you expect to learn that was not? Also, what did you learn that you did not expect? For those expectations which were not met, categorize them into one or more of the following categories. Over anticipated expectations, those that the workshop was not intended to cover; those that sufficient time was not allocated; those that the team or individuals did not have the capacity or capabilities to accomplish. For each of these a different plan is needed to resolve. For those which the workshop was not intended, future workshops may address. In some cases, directing questions to you workshop advisor will resolve the issues. Your advisor may help you find alternate answers if your expectation is beyond the scope of this workshop. If insufficient time was allocated, more time needs to be allocated for future workshops. It may be that the team needs to have more time to meet and work through exercises or questions. The addition of more team time normally solves these problems, if the team members do not have the capacity for their normal workload and the workshop workload there are at least two solutions. One is to off-load the team member who is overloaded and give that work to another, thereby freeing up time for workshop activities. The other is to add team members so as to have more people to share to team load. An alternate is for those individuals who cannot be spared from their normal work positions is to replace them on the team with someone who has more flexibility or backup.
With respect to distance-learning, where did you have difficulties and needed to change your method of study, your study area, or other physical attributes. You planned to have a study area where you would not be interrupted. Where you could study and not be distracted. You should prepare a list of those things that were detrimental with your study space, including anything that was distracting, intrusive, or otherwise negative. Distance-learning is very different from how most people learn or were taught. Even with large lecture hall classes, students normally have direct access to professors to ask questions or to expand on the lecture materials. In the most case, students are used to this direct contact with their teachers. Their participation is with other students in the classroom. Other activities outside of the classroom are also engaged in. Distance-learning does not have this face-to-face experience and many people feel strange when in this environment. But, once acclimatized to the distance-learning environment most become comfortable and enjoy the virtual one on one experience.
Re-visit your objectives for this workshop. Which were achieved and which were not. Ask yourself why some ere and some were not. Much like your expectations there will be reasons for not achieving objectives. They may be related to inadequate study space, inadequate time, or inadequate resources. These can be remedied by alleviating the inadequacy. They may be related to other constraints. Competition for available resources is the most common. If this workshop is the top priority than this should not be an issue. However, others may believe that they have a more pressing priority. This is most likely the urgent task overshadowing the important actions. If this happens often perhaps the person who has the urgent issue is not managing their area of responsibility and this issue needs to be addressed. If there is a customer who believes they and only they are number one, they may have to be educated that they are not. Perhaps if a single customer is costing more than they contribute, they need to be disconnected from the business.
Included in our objectives were three key statements: mission; vision; and values. We first ascertained if these three existed within the company documentation and culture. Then we dissected them for meaning and inter relationship. Next, we examined actual experiences to see if the mission, vision and values as stated were reflected in reality. Starting with the mission statement, does your company have one, is it clearly stated, prominently displayed, and is it believable when compared to reality. If the company has a mission statement, could you locate it? As the mission is the primary statement of why you are in business and what your business is, it needs to be where everyone can see and understand it. Was your analysis thorough? Does your mission accurately reflect actuality, especially today’s reality? If you found any deficiencies, were you able to correct them? Turning to vision, did the stated vision the outcome of doing your mission. Remember, vision is where your future lies if you really perform your mission. If they do not align, what did you do to get them aligned? With values, does reality substantiate the values. Or, are the real values different? If they were not the same, what changes did you make, either in the values statement of in how the company’s values as exercises are those in the value statement?
Mission, vision, and values are the three statements that describe why you are in business, what your business is, where you wish to be in the future, and how you conduct your business activities to perform your mission and reach your vision. You should review these three key statements to ensure your satisfaction with them and their image of your company.
Asking the questions, “What went right?” and “What went wrong?” is a powerful tool. In any plan things go well while others do not. The object of this exercise is to uncover what is done well so as to intentionally repeat them, and to find those practices which impact negatively and not repeat them. It is only through questioning what we do and what the results of such actions are, can we improve on our performance/ Many of the actions we take are done through habit and not through thought. If our reflex response leads us to failure, it behooves us to change the reflex to a well thought our answer to inquiries. On the other hand, if reflex leads us to success, we should analyze why that is and institutionalize certain response actions.
Your plan to travel from the present to your future state should be examined with each workshop review. As plans are constructed on what we know and what we think we know, they often are subject to revisions. As we construct a plan, we make certain assumptions based on our present knowledge. As we progress, our knowledge of the future becomes clearer and we may discover that what we thought would happen will not. Your selection of your distance-learning space may be negated if the organization moves into new quarters and the entire people resource is reallocated space. This will probably not happen, but if it does, it is not the worst thing in the world. You will have to find new space which works well for your study and team space. An interruption for sure, but not a game ender. You may lose a team member. People get promoted, change jobs, or move. This will cause a bigger hiccup to your efforts that space reallocation, but there are many talented people in the organization who will fit in to the team structure and make valuable contributions to the teams work. Replacements can be seen as refreshers. Some feel that there should be changes considered in the makeup of the team every six to twelve months. Thy look on the team as a both a company opportunity and a training ground for those who display higher potential. After six months or a year, some of the team will wish to get back into the mainstream of their discipline and continue their career path full time. Others will see that their long-term personal goals are best served by team membership.
This workshop is intended as an introduction to strategic planning, the strategic planning process, the resources necessary, and the time commitments required. Strategic planning differs from other types of planning. Tactical planning is concerned with only one, near term objective. Financial planning is concerned with money, how it is generated and spent. Budgets are a form of financial plan that is uses every day in most organizations. Strategic planning focuses on the long-term objectives of both the company and the principals within the company. The strategic planning horizon can be twenty-five or more years. It is this focus on the long term that separates strategic planning from tactical planning. Strategic planning is an ongoing process because of its long-term focus. A typical strategic plan begins with the long-term goals, and then develops interim goals necessary to support the long term. These are usually stated in five-year increments, with the next five years broken down into yearly goals. The focus on tactics is on this first five-year period with the necessary detailed actions in years one.
The principals in the organization need to fully support the strategic planning process and what successful panning can man for the achievement of the company and their personal objectives. They need to have recognized that strategic planning is a large effort and requires resources and time. They need to recognize that the effort will be expended over a number of years, and that it will become part of the organizations management fabric. Strategic planning is an ongoing effort. In their effort of strategic planning, the principals must be willing to allocate resources, people, financial, and time, to the effort. If they have done so, the effort can be a success. Without this support, beginning at the highest level, success will not be attained.
When you verified that the established company goals and policies reflect the company’s mission, vision and values, you ensured that the strategic planning process will have a firm foundation upon which the strategic planning team can build the strategic plan. When you determined that the company’s goals are aligned with its mission and vision, and further, that that they reflect the company’s reality, you confirmed that the company does “walk the talk”, and what it promises, it does. With the confirmation that the owners desires are in alignment with the company’s vision and values, you have validated another necessary condition for success. If your personal objectives are not aligned with the company’s, there is a tendency to not fully support the company objectives. This is understandable. If the company objective does prevent the realization of your personal wants, you might not support it. Lastly, you have ensured that the principals have expressed their commitment to the strategic planning process. It is absolutely necessary that we ensure we have completed our objectives. As with all study programs, early objectives are needed to progress on to more complex tasks and without accomplishing them, we will have difficulties with future workshops. With all of these objectives accomplished, we are now ready to move on to the next workshop.
The history of strategic planning starts with the military and those military leaders of foresight. Julius Caesar was an early protagonist of strategic planning. His plan for the Roman Empire was to expand its reach throughout the English Isles and the Germanic states. His strategy was to use the Roman army to attack and defeat the present populations of these lands. Napoleon was another strategic thinker. His strategy was to control all of the European countries by defeating them with his army in battle one at a time. Although both were successful, they ultimately were defeated. They did not recognize limits to their strategy, and tactics to implement the strategies, and paid the price for it. The Roman’s armies were trained to fight on open fields and were at a loss when they were forced into battle in forests and swamps. Napoleon did not understand that the English navy could force him to fight many battles in varying separated places and that his foes learned his ways and how to counter them.
In the more modern military battles of World War I, strategy was more general. It was getting the troops into position where they could battle, provide them with food and ammunition, and have traditional leaders lead them into battle. Unfortunately, the generals did not allow for the machine guns and other modern weapons.
In World War II, strategy was more formal and focused on the favorable outcome of the war, and not just on battles. There were various strategies in the Pacific and European theaters. There were different sub-strategies for land, sea and air operations, all tied to their ultimate area plans. In the Pacific, it was containment first, followed by island hopping to gain access to the Japanese islands by air, and Japan’s ultimate defeat. In Europe, it was containment in North Africa, support for Russia to keep her in the war, invasion of Europe, freeing of those countries concurred by Germany, and eventual German defeat.
In pre-World War I industry, giants of industry were being born and growing. Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford, Vanderbilt, Morgan and Hersey were of the most prominent captains of industry. They built companies and empires in oil, steel, auto, chocolate, transportation and financial industries. They all had strategies that they followed. One of them was to buy the competition and be the only provider. In railroads, that meant that you could charge whatever you wanted to. In those days there was not government oversight. In steel production it was much the same. Become the sole provider and charge what the market would pay. In auto, the assembly line enabled cars to be produced and sold more inexpensively. So much so, that the workers in Ford’s plants could buy the autos they made. The strategy was not to buy others out, but to expand the market by making the auto more affordable to the masses.
Following World War II, we experienced a growth in military contracts due to the cold war with the Soviet Union. Based on World War II experiences, the Department of Defense in the US, implemented program management to control the deliveries and completion dates of their large expensive programs that were contracted to private companies. Program or project management is a short-term cure to the defense departments bleeding contract cost overruns. Defense contractors began implementing program management offices, staffed with skilled engineers and managers. Critical path analysis and Gantt charts stretching hundreds of feet became the norm in the program manager office. The combination of Gantt charts and critical path analysis were helpful in determining the impact of any activity in the multitude of activities, would impact the project end date. Unfortunately, it just identified where to spend time fixing issues and not on how to fix them. With large projects, these aids were so complex and cumbersome to use, that they became more costly in time and people power than they were worth. Many companies abandoned them if they could and relied on more tactical and experience to bring projects in on time.
Within the military, and especially the Defense department, they began to implement longer term planning programs, which became the basis for military strategic planning. Within the military, long-term goals were established to offset potential enemy threats. These could lead to multi-year building programs for strategic aircraft, ships and other weapons. The services knew that the cycle for developing and building these strategic weapons was multi-decades long. The need for strategic planning of these high cost, long-term projects promoted strategic planning as the tool of choice.
In private industry, there was no rush to do strategic planning. After the war, consumers were demanding hard goods that were in short supply, and the industrial leaders were anxious to supply them. The basic strategy of industry was build what we can and sell it to the people. The returning soldiers married and started families. These families needed houses, cars, appliances, apparel, and many other products and services that had been non-existent during the war years. In the rush to make up time, the buying public became lenient. Goods did not have to be the best. They had to be available, shinny, and of the latest style. As long as the good times rolled, the strategy of build it and they will buy was a good strategy. But good times do not last forever, and industry was forced to do some forward thinking. They had to plan if they wished to retain their markets and profits. They also realized that without any long-range plans and long-range goals, they ran the risk of losing customers or going out of business. Many analysis tools were pitched as the panacea, but all had faults. Then, in the 1950s and 1960s strategic planning emerged as a management discipline. Peter Drucker was one of the early proponents of strategic planning. Drucker’s work is recorded in many of his books and in other’s by reference. Some of the tools that first evolved during this period have stood the test of time and are used today in strategic planning and other management programs.
To address strategic planning’s current position, we must first discuss strategy. Strategy is defined as the means for an organization to reach its goals and so defines its direction. Today, the emphasis is on short term goals and, therefore, the strategies are short erm. You will hear of a company’s long-term strategy being three years out. An extremely long long-term goal might be five years in the future. Frequently, the strategy and the goals in today’s business world are driven by what drives Wall Street, short term gains. In today’s world of short-term product life and new technological products, short term goals are the standard. However, if you define a company’s strategy as an overall plan for the company to exist beyond today and to enable the company’s vision to be realized, it must be truly long term. It must also be the first of multiple strategies. In order to be successful with the overall strategy, other strategies must be developed that support the overall one. There must be market, sales, new product and other strategies, all supporting the overall strategy. A good analogy is the multiple strategies that the military proposes. First is the overall strategy of winning the conflict. This strategy could be to limit your enemy’s advances, while you build up your war materials, then have a combined land, sea, and air attack on your enemy. The supporting strategies would be built for the various parts of the overall strategy, the land, sea and air strategies. These strategies could be sub-divided into sub-strategies for various military or theater campaigns.
Today, there is a lot of talk about strategy and strategic planning, but little actual devising of strategies. For some, strategic planning has become one of the flavors of the month. It is in vogue so we will construct a plan. For others it is not really a strategic plan, but instead is a financial plan. We are comfortable with what we know, and we know the financial exercises needed to produce a financial plan, and so we prepare one. Of course, there are companies that do strategic planning. The electronics and high-tech companies are on the leading, and sometimes bleeding edge of product introduction. Without a strategic goal and a plan to attain them, they could go out of business rather quickly. There are many examples of electronic companies being very successful, and then being surprised when their product was replaced by another, and they had no recourse but to close the doors. The auto industry is another one which cannot be without planning. With all the regulations they face directly, fuel economy goals and emission requirements, and those that the market brings, the growing consumer demand for an all-electric vehicle, they need to plan, so they can meet the requirements of the regulators and the marketplace. To build a successful strategy you first need to set strategic goals. Is your business goal to be ranked as number one in the industry? Is your goal to grow at an annual rate of five percent for the next twenty-five years? Is it to migrate from your present products to similar products that are more energy efficient and have a lessor carbon footprint? Whatever your goals are, the goal is the first step in preparing your strategic plan.
Large public companies are touting their goals. The auto industry is talking about changing their cars and trucks to new electric models. Power companies are discussing how to be less dependent on coal and other fossil fuels and increase their use of solar and wind generation.
The leadership of these companies is very visible in their support for these goals. It is obvious that the leadership’s personal goals are in line with the company goals. A key to assuring achieving goals is this alignment of company and personal goals. However, many companies, large and small, have not taken the first step of determining their long-term goals, their legacy goals. For most of us, a twenty-five-year goal is not attainable within our tenure. The average chief executive only spends three to five years in that position. Even with a board of directors, the probability of any director being on the board for twenty-five years is very small. The legacy goals that we set now will be realized by future generations, and it is our job to ensure that they are goals that will outlast our term of office.
These goals should be aligned with our personal goals for both ourselves and the company. In today’s business world, it is difficult to align both personal and company goals. With the average length in a particular position, and the over emphasis on short term performance, it is not surprising that executives, and board members, push for quick results at the expense of the longer term. They are not being held to the long term, and people only respond to what they are accountable for. If the emphasis at board meetings is this quarter’s results and the plans to ensure the next two quarters, the efforts will be on short term results. If bonuses are paid on short term performance, it should not be surprising that the short term is the focus. It is only those companies with a long history of success and of having to change over time, that take a longer-term view. The auto companies, power companies, and airlines are some which do take the longer view. The vast majority of other companies are focused on the short term. These companies seem to have the goal of doing what we do very well, doing it better that our competitors and doing it at a profit. Their strategy seems to be, “we will perpetually modify our products or introduce new products that the market will buy, and we will do that better than the competition”. The fashion industry is one that looks like that. It changes public preference to the latest style and sells more of them. However, as is being witnessed in today’s fashion world, the public is no longer following the industry. Similarly, the cell phone industry introduces newer and more highly featured products every year. That has been a very successful strategy for the manufacturers, but buyers are growing tired of paying higher and higher prices for less incremental improvements. The question has to be asked, “When will the public treat cell phones as a commodity rather than a high-tech device?”
In today’s world, we have some companies which do strategic planning. We have some companies whose strategy negates planning for the long term. And, we have companies who are trying to plan for the future but with little results. For those companies who believe in the future and that to be successful they must plan for it, they need to fully embrace strategic planning.
The future of strategic planning will be one of change. There will be a gradual recognition that planning at all levels and for both short and long terms is necessary. There will be a gradual realization that the seemingly unplanned release of new cell phones follows a plan. Much like the yearly new car offerings, there is a plan behind them. They only appear to be random. Afterall, the change over to a new electric propulsion system in autos is a multiyear development project. Then there is the impact on the entire product line to be considered. The auto makers have been planning the newly announced, revolutionary electric pickup trucks for years, and what we now see is the culmination of their electrification introduction strategy. Although different, the cell phone makers have been planning the latest release for years. The details might be mouldable, but the research and development of the chips that provide the features is a long process. Again, as with the auto industry, we are only allowed to see the results. The results appear to be miraculous and the new phone springs to life with all of the features fully formed. We do not see the actual development process. The development of the new phone cameras is an example of good development, coupled with good marketing. Only after the camera was fully ready to go to market, was it presented to the public. Without planning, these industries and most others would be woefully late in the marketplace.
With these and other examples, most companies are turning more and more toward planning. As they realize that goals are only as good as the plans to attain them, planning is becoming more the norm. Most companies begin to plan for the short term. A yearly revenue target is proposed, and plans are made to reach the target. They usually start with the sales plans. Most sales plans try to predict where the product or services can be sold, which customers will buy how much and when they will buy it? Financial plans come next. The accountants, using the sales forecasts for revenue, and historical numbers for costing, generate a plan that becomes a budget. The various groups in the company look at their budgeted numbers to see if they can be met. Is the sales forecast too high for the facilities and skilled associates available? Is there sufficient capital available to purchase additional manufacturing equipment? Is there sufficient time to hire the skilled people necessary? These and many other questions arise in the typical planning cycle. The one question that typically does not get asked is does the plan fit in with our long-term goals.
The confusion between long term plans and short-term plans will continue. It is hoped that those who do true strategic planning will be the exceptions. The strategic planners will understand that the attainment of long-term goals, those legacy goals, cannot be reached without planning. They will also have realized that there have to be both long term and short-term goals, and strategic and tactical plans to address them. The strategic plans are aimed at reaching the long-term goals, as the tactical plans strive for the short-term ones. These two plans do not stand alone. They support each other. One way to think about their interrelations is to view the legacy, long term goals, and the strategic plan to attain those goals, as focusing on the legacy you wish to leave to those who come after you. The short-term goals, and the tactical plan is to attain them are focused on the steps you must take to fulfil an interim step in the strategy. If your strategy were to drive from New York to Atlanta, your tactics would be the intermediate trips to Newark, to Washington, to Charlotte, and then to Atlanta. Missing the goals on any of the intermediate trips would cost the entire trip to be in jeopardy.
There is a lot of work currently being done that will be amplified in the future. Most of this work has recognized that until a new product is tested, or a fix has been tried out, it cannot be fully evaluated. Agile is one of these. It originated in the world of software generation, where considerable testing is required to verify new or modified code. It had been recognized that the nature of software was such that waiting to complete coding and then testing it, produced many revisions adding to the time needed to be able to release the code. By breaking down the complex coding into bite sized pieces and testing them, finding the faults, and correcting them led to faster releases of better products. Agile was born in this world and the discipline is now being used outside of coding. By concentrating on a small part of a large project and trying various solutions in a short amount of time could separate the good from the not so good in a short time, allowing learning by failure to be the norm. This change in philosophy from treating failure as bad, to treating it as a learning tool, has proven to be beneficial in many instances. There are many programs that use this same concept and if we learn from our past, we will select the correct one for our circumstance.
The use of both short and long-term planning in conjunction is profitable. The business needs to keep its eye on the long term, legacy goals, while at the same time achieve the short-term targets. This requires both strategic planning and tactical planning in tandem. The plans will include activities like agile that are intended to shorten the time to success while learning from failures. The combination of long term, legacy plans, short term tactical plans, and agile-like elements will bring the attainment of goals together.
It is important that we keep focused on our long-term goals within this structure. If we lose this focus, we will in all probability lose the legacy goals. The future will be won by those that are able to accomplish both short and long-term goals, and strategic planning is the tool that will allow both to be accomplished.
Strategic Planning – Workshop 1 – Getting Started
- Workshop Overview
- Planning Overview
- Understanding Mission
- Understanding Vision
- Understanding Values
- Constructing Mission
- Constructing Vision
- Constructing Values
- Guideline Review
- Workshop Review
- Workshop Preparation
- Part 12
Welcome to Appleton Greene and thank you for enrolling on the Strategic Planning corporate training program. You will be learning through our unique facilitation via distance-learning method, which will enable you to practically implement everything that you learn academically. The methods and materials used in your program have been designed and developed to ensure that you derive the maximum benefits and enjoyment possible. We hope that you find the program challenging and fun to do. However, if you have never been a distance-learner before, you may be experiencing some trepidation at the task before you. So we will get you started by giving you some basic information and guidance on how you can make the best use of the modules, how you should manage the materials and what you should be doing as you work through them. This guide is designed to point you in the right direction and help you to become an effective distance-learner. Take a few hours or so to study this guide and your guide to tutorial support for students, while making notes, before you start to study in earnest.
You will need to locate a quiet and private place to study, preferably a room where you can easily be isolated from external disturbances or distractions. Make sure the room is well-lit and incorporates a relaxed, pleasant feel. If you can spoil yourself within your study environment, you will have much more of a chance to ensure that you are always in the right frame of mind when you do devote time to study. For example, a nice fire, the ability to play soft soothing background music, soft but effective lighting, perhaps a nice view if possible and a good size desk with a comfortable chair. Make sure that your family know when you are studying and understand your study rules. Your study environment is very important. The ideal situation, if at all possible, is to have a separate study, which can be devoted to you. If this is not possible then you will need to pay a lot more attention to developing and managing your study schedule, because it will affect other people as well as yourself. The better your study environment, the more productive you will be.
Study tools & rules
Try and make sure that your study tools are sufficient and in good working order. You will need to have access to a computer, scanner and printer, with access to the internet. You will need a very comfortable chair, which supports your lower back, and you will need a good filing system. It can be very frustrating if you are spending valuable study time trying to fix study tools that are unreliable, or unsuitable for the task. Make sure that your study tools are up to date. You will also need to consider some study rules. Some of these rules will apply to you and will be intended to help you to be more disciplined about when and how you study. This distance-learning guide will help you and after you have read it you can put some thought into what your study rules should be. You will also need to negotiate some study rules for your family, friends or anyone who lives with you. They too will need to be disciplined in order to ensure that they can support you while you study. It is important to ensure that your family and friends are an integral part of your study team. Having their support and encouragement can prove to be a crucial contribution to your successful completion of the program. Involve them in as much as you can.
Distance-learners are freed from the necessity of attending regular classes or workshops, since they can study in their own way, at their own pace and for their own purposes. But unlike traditional internal training courses, it is the student’s responsibility, with a distance-learning program, to ensure that they manage their own study contribution. This requires strong self-discipline and self-motivation skills and there must be a clear will to succeed. Those students who are used to managing themselves, are good at managing others and who enjoy working in isolation, are more likely to be good distance-learners. It is also important to be aware of the main reasons why you are studying and of the main objectives that you are hoping to achieve as a result. You will need to remind yourself of these objectives at times when you need to motivate yourself. Never lose sight of your long-term goals and your short-term objectives. There is nobody available here to pamper you, or to look after you, or to spoon-feed you with information, so you will need to find ways to encourage and appreciate yourself while you are studying. Make sure that you chart your study progress, so that you can be sure of your achievements and re-evaluate your goals and objectives regularly.
Appleton Greene training programs are in all cases post-graduate programs. Consequently, you should already have obtained a business-related degree and be an experienced learner. You should therefore already be aware of your study strengths and weaknesses. For example, which time of the day are you at your most productive? Are you a lark or an owl? What study methods do you respond to the most? Are you a consistent learner? How do you discipline yourself? How do you ensure that you enjoy yourself while studying? It is important to understand yourself as a learner and so some self-assessment early on will be necessary if you are to apply yourself correctly. Perform a SWOT analysis on yourself as a student. List your internal strengths and weaknesses as a student and your external opportunities and threats. This will help you later on when you are creating a study plan. You can then incorporate features within your study plan that can ensure that you are playing to your strengths, while compensating for your weaknesses. You can also ensure that you make the most of your opportunities, while avoiding the potential threats to your success.
Accepting responsibility as a student
Training programs invariably require a significant investment, both in terms of what they cost and in the time that you need to contribute to study and the responsibility for successful completion of training programs rests entirely with the student. This is never more apparent than when a student is learning via distance-learning. Accepting responsibility as a student is an important step towards ensuring that you can successfully complete your training program. It is easy to instantly blame other people or factors when things go wrong. But the fact of the matter is that if a failure is your failure, then you have the power to do something about it, it is entirely in your own hands. If it is always someone else’s failure, then you are powerless to do anything about it. All students study in entirely different ways, this is because we are all individuals and what is right for one student, is not necessarily right for another. In order to succeed, you will have to accept personal responsibility for finding a way to plan, implement and manage a personal study plan that works for you. If you do not succeed, you only have yourself to blame.
By far the most critical contribution to stress, is the feeling of not being in control. In the absence of planning we tend to be reactive and can stumble from pillar to post in the hope that things will turn out fine in the end. Invariably they don’t! In order to be in control, we need to have firm ideas about how and when we want to do things. We also need to consider as many possible eventualities as we can, so that we are prepared for them when they happen. Prescriptive Change, is far easier to manage and control, than Emergent Change. The same is true with distance-learning. It is much easier and much more enjoyable, if you feel that you are in control and that things are going to plan. Even when things do go wrong, you are prepared for them and can act accordingly without any unnecessary stress. It is important therefore that you do take time to plan your studies properly.
Once you have developed a clear study plan, it is of equal importance to ensure that you manage the implementation of it. Most of us usually enjoy planning, but it is usually during implementation when things go wrong. Targets are not met and we do not understand why. Sometimes we do not even know if targets are being met. It is not enough for us to conclude that the study plan just failed. If it is failing, you will need to understand what you can do about it. Similarly if your study plan is succeeding, it is still important to understand why, so that you can improve upon your success. You therefore need to have guidelines for self-assessment so that you can be consistent with performance improvement throughout the program. If you manage things correctly, then your performance should constantly improve throughout the program.
Study objectives & tasks
The first place to start is developing your program objectives. These should feature your reasons for undertaking the training program in order of priority. Keep them succinct and to the point in order to avoid confusion. Do not just write the first things that come into your head because they are likely to be too similar to each other. Make a list of possible departmental headings, such as: Customer Service; E-business; Finance; Globalization; Human Resources; Technology; Legal; Management; Marketing and Production. Then brainstorm for ideas by listing as many things that you want to achieve under each heading and later re-arrange these things in order of priority. Finally, select the top item from each department heading and choose these as your program objectives. Try and restrict yourself to five because it will enable you to focus clearly. It is likely that the other things that you listed will be achieved if each of the top objectives are achieved. If this does not prove to be the case, then simply work through the process again.
As a guide, the Appleton Greene Strategic Planning corporate training program should take 12-18 months to complete, depending upon your availability and current commitments. The reason why there is such a variance in time estimates is because every student is an individual, with differing productivity levels and different commitments. These differentiations are then exaggerated by the fact that this is a distance-learning program, which incorporates the practical integration of academic theory as an as a part of the training program. Consequently all of the project studies are real, which means that important decisions and compromises need to be made. You will want to get things right and will need to be patient with your expectations in order to ensure that they are. We would always recommend that you are prudent with your own task and time forecasts, but you still need to develop them and have a clear indication of what are realistic expectations in your case. With reference to your time planning: consider the time that you can realistically dedicate towards study with the program every week; calculate how long it should take you to complete the program, using the guidelines featured here; then break the program down into logical modules and allocate a suitable proportion of time to each of them, these will be your milestones; you can create a time plan by using a spreadsheet on your computer, or a personal organizer such as MS Outlook, you could also use a financial forecasting software; break your time forecasts down into manageable chunks of time, the more specific you can be, the more productive and accurate your time management will be; finally, use formulas where possible to do your time calculations for you, because this will help later on when your forecasts need to change in line with actual performance. With reference to your task planning: refer to your list of tasks that need to be undertaken in order to achieve your program objectives; with reference to your time plan, calculate when each task should be implemented; remember that you are not estimating when your objectives will be achieved, but when you will need to focus upon implementing the corresponding tasks; you also need to ensure that each task is implemented in conjunction with the associated training modules which are relevant; then break each single task down into a list of specific to do’s, say approximately ten to do’s for each task and enter these into your study plan; once again you could use MS Outlook to incorporate both your time and task planning and this could constitute your study plan; you could also use a project management software like MS Project. You should now have a clear and realistic forecast detailing when you can expect to be able to do something about undertaking the tasks to achieve your program objectives.
It is one thing to develop your study forecast, it is quite another to monitor your progress. Ultimately it is less important whether you achieve your original study forecast and more important that you update it so that it constantly remains realistic in line with your performance. As you begin to work through the program, you will begin to have more of an idea about your own personal performance and productivity levels as a distance-learner. Once you have completed your first study module, you should re-evaluate your study forecast for both time and tasks, so that they reflect your actual performance level achieved. In order to achieve this you must first time yourself while training by using an alarm clock. Set the alarm for hourly intervals and make a note of how far you have come within that time. You can then make a note of your actual performance on your study plan and then compare your performance against your forecast. Then consider the reasons that have contributed towards your performance level, whether they are positive or negative and make a considered adjustment to your future forecasts as a result. Given time, you should start achieving your forecasts regularly.
With reference to time management: time yourself while you are studying and make a note of the actual time taken in your study plan; consider your successes with time-efficiency and the reasons for the success in each case and take this into consideration when reviewing future time planning; consider your failures with time-efficiency and the reasons for the failures in each case and take this into consideration when reviewing future time planning; re-evaluate your study forecast in relation to time planning for the remainder of your training program to ensure that you continue to be realistic about your time expectations. You need to be consistent with your time management, otherwise you will never complete your studies. This will either be because you are not contributing enough time to your studies, or you will become less efficient with the time that you do allocate to your studies. Remember, if you are not in control of your studies, they can just become yet another cause of stress for you.
With reference to your task management: time yourself while you are studying and make a note of the actual tasks that you have undertaken in your study plan; consider your successes with task-efficiency and the reasons for the success in each case; take this into consideration when reviewing future task planning; consider your failures with task-efficiency and the reasons for the failures in each case and take this into consideration when reviewing future task planning; re-evaluate your study forecast in relation to task planning for the remainder of your training program to ensure that you continue to be realistic about your task expectations. You need to be consistent with your task management, otherwise you will never know whether you are achieving your program objectives or not.
Keeping in touch
You will have access to qualified and experienced professors and tutors who are responsible for providing tutorial support for your particular training program. So don’t be shy about letting them know how you are getting on. We keep electronic records of all tutorial support emails so that professors and tutors can review previous correspondence before considering an individual response. It also means that there is a record of all communications between you and your professors and tutors and this helps to avoid any unnecessary duplication, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation. If you have a problem relating to the program, share it with them via email. It is likely that they have come across the same problem before and are usually able to make helpful suggestions and steer you in the right direction. To learn more about when and how to use tutorial support, please refer to the Tutorial Support section of this student information guide. This will help you to ensure that you are making the most of tutorial support that is available to you and will ultimately contribute towards your success and enjoyment with your training program.
Work colleagues and family
You should certainly discuss your program study progress with your colleagues, friends and your family. Appleton Greene training programs are very practical. They require you to seek information from other people, to plan, develop and implement processes with other people and to achieve feedback from other people in relation to viability and productivity. You will therefore have plenty of opportunities to test your ideas and enlist the views of others. People tend to be sympathetic towards distance-learners, so don’t bottle it all up in yourself. Get out there and share it! It is also likely that your family and colleagues are going to benefit from your labors with the program, so they are likely to be much more interested in being involved than you might think. Be bold about delegating work to those who might benefit themselves. This is a great way to achieve understanding and commitment from people who you may later rely upon for process implementation. Share your experiences with your friends and family.
Making it relevant
The key to successful learning is to make it relevant to your own individual circumstances. At all times you should be trying to make bridges between the content of the program and your own situation. Whether you achieve this through quiet reflection or through interactive discussion with your colleagues, client partners or your family, remember that it is the most important and rewarding aspect of translating your studies into real self-improvement. You should be clear about how you want the program to benefit you. This involves setting clear study objectives in relation to the content of the course in terms of understanding, concepts, completing research or reviewing activities and relating the content of the modules to your own situation. Your objectives may understandably change as you work through the program, in which case you should enter the revised objectives on your study plan so that you have a permanent reminder of what you are trying to achieve, when and why.
Prepare your study environment, your study tools and rules.
Undertake detailed self-assessment in terms of your ability as a learner.
Create a format for your study plan.
Consider your study objectives and tasks.
Create a study forecast.
Assess your study performance.
Re-evaluate your study forecast.
Be consistent when managing your study plan.
Use your Appleton Greene Certified Learning Provider (CLP) for tutorial support.
Make sure you keep in touch with those around you.
Appleton Greene uses standard and bespoke corporate training programs as vessels to transfer business process improvement knowledge into the heart of our clients’ organizations. Each individual program focuses upon the implementation of a specific business process, which enables clients to easily quantify their return on investment. There are hundreds of established Appleton Greene corporate training products now available to clients within customer services, e-business, finance, globalization, human resources, information technology, legal, management, marketing and production. It does not matter whether a client’s employees are located within one office, or an unlimited number of international offices, we can still bring them together to learn and implement specific business processes collectively. Our approach to global localization enables us to provide clients with a truly international service with that all important personal touch. Appleton Greene corporate training programs can be provided virtually or locally and they are all unique in that they individually focus upon a specific business function. They are implemented over a sustainable period of time and professional support is consistently provided by qualified learning providers and specialist consultants.
You will have a designated Certified Learning Provider (CLP) and an Accredited Consultant and we encourage you to communicate with them as much as possible. In all cases tutorial support is provided online because we can then keep a record of all communications to ensure that tutorial support remains consistent. You would also be forwarding your work to the tutorial support unit for evaluation and assessment. You will receive individual feedback on all of the work that you undertake on a one-to-one basis, together with specific recommendations for anything that may need to be changed in order to achieve a pass with merit or a pass with distinction and you then have as many opportunities as you may need to re-submit project studies until they meet with the required standard. Consequently the only reason that you should really fail (CLP) is if you do not do the work. It makes no difference to us whether a student takes 12 months or 18 months to complete the program, what matters is that in all cases the same quality standard will have been achieved.
Please forward all of your future emails to the designated (CLP) Tutorial Support Unit email address that has been provided and please do not duplicate or copy your emails to other AGC email accounts as this will just cause unnecessary administration. Please note that emails are always answered as quickly as possible but you will need to allow a period of up to 20 business days for responses to general tutorial support emails during busy periods, because emails are answered strictly within the order in which they are received. You will also need to allow a period of up to 30 business days for the evaluation and assessment of project studies. This does not include weekends or public holidays. Please therefore kindly allow for this within your time planning. All communications are managed online via email because it enables tutorial service support managers to review other communications which have been received before responding and it ensures that there is a copy of all communications retained on file for future reference. All communications will be stored within your personal (CLP) study file here at Appleton Greene throughout your designated study period. If you need any assistance or clarification at any time, please do not hesitate to contact us by forwarding an email and remember that we are here to help. If you have any questions, please list and number your questions succinctly and you can then be sure of receiving specific answers to each and every query.
It takes approximately 1 Year to complete the Strategic Planning corporate training program, incorporating 12 x 6-hour monthly workshops. Each student will also need to contribute approximately 4 hours per week over 1 Year of their personal time. Students can study from home or work at their own pace and are responsible for managing their own study plan. There are no formal examinations and students are evaluated and assessed based upon their project study submissions, together with the quality of their internal analysis and supporting documents. They can contribute more time towards study when they have the time to do so and can contribute less time when they are busy. All students tend to be in full time employment while studying and the Strategic Planning program is purposely designed to accommodate this, so there is plenty of flexibility in terms of time management. It makes no difference to us at Appleton Greene, whether individuals take 12-18 months to complete this program. What matters is that in all cases the same standard of quality will have been achieved with the standard and bespoke programs that have been developed.
Distance Learning Guide
The distance learning guide should be your first port of call when starting your training program. It will help you when you are planning how and when to study, how to create the right environment and how to establish the right frame of mind. If you can lay the foundations properly during the planning stage, then it will contribute to your enjoyment and productivity while training later. The guide helps to change your lifestyle in order to accommodate time for study and to cultivate good study habits. It helps you to chart your progress so that you can measure your performance and achieve your goals. It explains the tools that you will need for study and how to make them work. It also explains how to translate academic theory into practical reality. Spend some time now working through your distance learning guide and make sure that you have firm foundations in place so that you can make the most of your distance learning program. There is no requirement for you to attend training workshops or classes at Appleton Greene offices. The entire program is undertaken online, program course manuals and project studies are administered via the Appleton Greene web site and via email, so you are able to study at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home or office as long as you have a computer and access to the internet.
How To Study
The how to study guide provides students with a clear understanding of the Appleton Greene facilitation via distance learning training methods and enables students to obtain a clear overview of the training program content. It enables students to understand the step-by-step training methods used by Appleton Greene and how course manuals are integrated with project studies. It explains the research and development that is required and the need to provide evidence and references to support your statements. It also enables students to understand precisely what will be required of them in order to achieve a pass with merit and a pass with distinction for individual project studies and provides useful guidance on how to be innovative and creative when developing your Unique Program Proposition (UPP).
Tutorial support for the Appleton Greene Strategic Planning corporate training program is provided online either through the Appleton Greene Client Support Portal (CSP), or via email. All tutorial support requests are facilitated by a designated Program Administration Manager (PAM). They are responsible for deciding which professor or tutor is the most appropriate option relating to the support required and then the tutorial support request is forwarded onto them. Once the professor or tutor has completed the tutorial support request and answered any questions that have been asked, this communication is then returned to the student via email by the designated Program Administration Manager (PAM). This enables all tutorial support, between students, professors and tutors, to be facilitated by the designated Program Administration Manager (PAM) efficiently and securely through the email account. You will therefore need to allow a period of up to 20 business days for responses to general support queries and up to 30 business days for the evaluation and assessment of project studies, because all tutorial support requests are answered strictly within the order in which they are received. This does not include weekends or public holidays. Consequently you need to put some thought into the management of your tutorial support procedure in order to ensure that your study plan is feasible and to obtain the maximum possible benefit from tutorial support during your period of study. Please retain copies of your tutorial support emails for future reference. Please ensure that ALL of your tutorial support emails are set out using the format as suggested within your guide to tutorial support. Your tutorial support emails need to be referenced clearly to the specific part of the course manual or project study which you are working on at any given time. You also need to list and number any questions that you would like to ask, up to a maximum of five questions within each tutorial support email. Remember the more specific you can be with your questions the more specific your answers will be too and this will help you to avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or duplication. The guide to tutorial support is intended to help you to understand how and when to use support in order to ensure that you get the most out of your training program. Appleton Greene training programs are designed to enable you to do things for yourself. They provide you with a structure or a framework and we use tutorial support to facilitate students while they practically implement what they learn. In other words, we are enabling students to do things for themselves. The benefits of distance learning via facilitation are considerable and are much more sustainable in the long-term than traditional short-term knowledge sharing programs. Consequently you should learn how and when to use tutorial support so that you can maximize the benefits from your learning experience with Appleton Greene. This guide describes the purpose of each training function and how to use them and how to use tutorial support in relation to each aspect of the training program. It also provides useful tips and guidance with regard to best practice.
Tutorial Support Tips
Students are often unsure about how and when to use tutorial support with Appleton Greene. This Tip List will help you to understand more about how to achieve the most from using tutorial support. Refer to it regularly to ensure that you are continuing to use the service properly. Tutorial support is critical to the success of your training experience, but it is important to understand when and how to use it in order to maximize the benefit that you receive. It is no coincidence that those students who succeed are those that learn how to be positive, proactive and productive when using tutorial support.
Be positive and friendly with your tutorial support emails
Remember that if you forward an email to the tutorial support unit, you are dealing with real people. “Do unto others as you would expect others to do unto you”. If you are positive, complimentary and generally friendly in your emails, you will generate a similar response in return. This will be more enjoyable, productive and rewarding for you in the long-term.
Think about the impression that you want to create
Every time that you communicate, you create an impression, which can be either positive or negative, so put some thought into the impression that you want to create. Remember that copies of all tutorial support emails are stored electronically and tutors will always refer to prior correspondence before responding to any current emails. Over a period of time, a general opinion will be arrived at in relation to your character, attitude and ability. Try to manage your own frustrations, mood swings and temperament professionally, without involving the tutorial support team. Demonstrating frustration or a lack of patience is a weakness and will be interpreted as such. The good thing about communicating in writing, is that you will have the time to consider your content carefully, you can review it and proof-read it before sending your email to Appleton Greene and this should help you to communicate more professionally, consistently and to avoid any unnecessary knee-jerk reactions to individual situations as and when they may arise. Please also remember that the CLP Tutorial Support Unit will not just be responsible for evaluating and assessing the quality of your work, they will also be responsible for providing recommendations to other learning providers and to client contacts within the Appleton Greene global client network, so do be in control of your own emotions and try to create a good impression.
Remember that quality is preferred to quantity
Please remember that when you send an email to the tutorial support team, you are not using Twitter or Text Messaging. Try not to forward an email every time that you have a thought. This will not prove to be productive either for you or for the tutorial support team. Take time to prepare your communications properly, as if you were writing a professional letter to a business colleague and make a list of queries that you are likely to have and then incorporate them within one email, say once every month, so that the tutorial support team can understand more about context, application and your methodology for study. Get yourself into a consistent routine with your tutorial support requests and use the tutorial support template provided with ALL of your emails. The (CLP) Tutorial Support Unit will not spoon-feed you with information. They need to be able to evaluate and assess your tutorial support requests carefully and professionally.
Be specific about your questions in order to receive specific answers
Try not to write essays by thinking as you are writing tutorial support emails. The tutorial support unit can be unclear about what in fact you are asking, or what you are looking to achieve. Be specific about asking questions that you want answers to. Number your questions. You will then receive specific answers to each and every question. This is the main purpose of tutorial support via email.
Keep a record of your tutorial support emails
It is important that you keep a record of all tutorial support emails that are forwarded to you. You can then refer to them when necessary and it avoids any unnecessary duplication, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation.
Individual training workshops or telephone support
Please be advised that Appleton Greene does not provide separate or individual tutorial support meetings, workshops, or provide telephone support for individual students. Appleton Greene is an equal opportunities learning and service provider and we are therefore understandably bound to treat all students equally. We cannot therefore broker special financial or study arrangements with individual students regardless of the circumstances. All tutorial support is provided online and this enables Appleton Greene to keep a record of all communications between students, professors and tutors on file for future reference, in accordance with our quality management procedure and your terms and conditions of enrolment. All tutorial support is provided online via email because it enables us to have time to consider support content carefully, it ensures that you receive a considered and detailed response to your queries. You can number questions that you would like to ask, which relate to things that you do not understand or where clarification may be required. You can then be sure of receiving specific answers to each individual query. You will also then have a record of these communications and of all tutorial support, which has been provided to you. This makes tutorial support administration more productive by avoiding any unnecessary duplication, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation.
Tutorial Support Email Format
You should use this tutorial support format if you need to request clarification or assistance while studying with your training program. Please note that ALL of your tutorial support request emails should use the same format. You should therefore set up a standard email template, which you can then use as and when you need to. Emails that are forwarded to Appleton Greene, which do not use the following format, may be rejected and returned to you by the (CLP) Program Administration Manager. A detailed response will then be forwarded to you via email usually within 20 business days of receipt for general support queries and 30 business days for the evaluation and assessment of project studies. This does not include weekends or public holidays. Your tutorial support request, together with the corresponding TSU reply, will then be saved and stored within your electronic TSU file at Appleton Greene for future reference.
Subject line of your email
Please insert: Appleton Greene (CLP) Tutorial Support Request: (Your Full Name) (Date), within the subject line of your email.
Main body of your email
1. Appleton Greene Certified Learning Provider (CLP) Tutorial Support Request
2. Your Full Name
3. Date of TS request
4. Preferred email address
5. Backup email address
6. Course manual page name or number (reference)
7. Project study page name or number (reference)
Subject of enquiry
Please insert a maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Briefly outline the subject matter of your inquiry, or what your questions relate to.
Maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Maximum of 50 words (please be succinct)
Please note that a maximum of 5 questions is permitted with each individual tutorial support request email.
* List the questions that you want to ask first, then re-arrange them in order of priority. Make sure that you reference them, where necessary, to the course manuals or project studies.
* Make sure that you are specific about your questions and number them. Try to plan the content within your emails to make sure that it is relevant.
* Make sure that your tutorial support emails are set out correctly, using the Tutorial Support Email Format provided here.
* Save a copy of your email and incorporate the date sent after the subject title. Keep your tutorial support emails within the same file and in date order for easy reference.
* Allow up to 20 business days for a response to general tutorial support emails and up to 30 business days for the evaluation and assessment of project studies, because detailed individual responses will be made in all cases and tutorial support emails are answered strictly within the order in which they are received.
* Emails can and do get lost. So if you have not received a reply within the appropriate time, forward another copy or a reminder to the tutorial support unit to be sure that it has been received but do not forward reminders unless the appropriate time has elapsed.
* When you receive a reply, save it immediately featuring the date of receipt after the subject heading for easy reference. In most cases the tutorial support unit replies to your questions individually, so you will have a record of the questions that you asked as well as the answers offered. With project studies however, separate emails are usually forwarded by the tutorial support unit, so do keep a record of your own original emails as well.
* Remember to be positive and friendly in your emails. You are dealing with real people who will respond to the same things that you respond to.
* Try not to repeat questions that have already been asked in previous emails. If this happens the tutorial support unit will probably just refer you to the appropriate answers that have already been provided within previous emails.
* If you lose your tutorial support email records you can write to Appleton Greene to receive a copy of your tutorial support file, but a separate administration charge may be levied for this service.
How To Study
Your Certified Learning Provider (CLP) and Accredited Consultant can help you to plan a task list for getting started so that you can be clear about your direction and your priorities in relation to your training program. It is also a good way to introduce yourself to the tutorial support team.
Planning your study environment
Your study conditions are of great importance and will have a direct effect on how much you enjoy your training program. Consider how much space you will have, whether it is comfortable and private and whether you are likely to be disturbed. The study tools and facilities at your disposal are also important to the success of your distance-learning experience. Your tutorial support unit can help with useful tips and guidance, regardless of your starting position. It is important to get this right before you start working on your training program.
Planning your program objectives
It is important that you have a clear list of study objectives, in order of priority, before you start working on your training program. Your tutorial support unit can offer assistance here to ensure that your study objectives have been afforded due consideration and priority.
Planning how and when to study
Distance-learners are freed from the necessity of attending regular classes, since they can study in their own way, at their own pace and for their own purposes. This approach is designed to let you study efficiently away from the traditional classroom environment. It is important however, that you plan how and when to study, so that you are making the most of your natural attributes, strengths and opportunities. Your tutorial support unit can offer assistance and useful tips to ensure that you are playing to your strengths.
Planning your study tasks
You should have a clear understanding of the study tasks that you should be undertaking and the priority associated with each task. These tasks should also be integrated with your program objectives. The distance learning guide and the guide to tutorial support for students should help you here, but if you need any clarification or assistance, please contact your tutorial support unit.
Planning your time
You will need to allocate specific times during your calendar when you intend to study if you are to have a realistic chance of completing your program on time. You are responsible for planning and managing your own study time, so it is important that you are successful with this. Your tutorial support unit can help you with this if your time plan is not working.
Keeping in touch
Consistency is the key here. If you communicate too frequently in short bursts, or too infrequently with no pattern, then your management ability with your studies will be questioned, both by you and by your tutorial support unit. It is obvious when a student is in control and when one is not and this will depend how able you are at sticking with your study plan. Inconsistency invariably leads to in-completion.
Charting your progress
Your tutorial support team can help you to chart your own study progress. Refer to your distance learning guide for further details.
Making it work
To succeed, all that you will need to do is apply yourself to undertaking your training program and interpreting it correctly. Success or failure lies in your hands and your hands alone, so be sure that you have a strategy for making it work. Your Certified Learning Provider (CLP) and Accredited Consultant can guide you through the process of program planning, development and implementation.
Interpretation is often unique to the individual but it can be improved and even quantified by implementing consistent interpretation methods. Interpretation can be affected by outside interference such as family members, TV, or the Internet, or simply by other thoughts which are demanding priority in our minds. One thing that can improve our productivity is using recognized reading methods. This helps us to focus and to be more structured when reading information for reasons of importance, rather than relaxation.
When reading through course manuals for the first time, subconsciously set your reading speed to be just fast enough that you cannot dwell on individual words or tables. With practice, you should be able to read an A4 sheet of paper in one minute. You will not achieve much in the way of a detailed understanding, but your brain will retain a useful overview. This overview will be important later on and will enable you to keep individual issues in perspective with a more generic picture because speed reading appeals to the memory part of the brain. Do not worry about what you do or do not remember at this stage.
Once you have speed read everything, you can then start work in earnest. You now need to read a particular section of your course manual thoroughly, by making detailed notes while you read. This process is called Content Reading and it will help to consolidate your understanding and interpretation of the information that has been provided.
Making structured notes on the course manuals
When you are content reading, you should be making detailed notes, which are both structured and informative. Make these notes in a MS Word document on your computer, because you can then amend and update these as and when you deem it to be necessary. List your notes under three headings: 1. Interpretation – 2. Questions – 3. Tasks. The purpose of the 1st section is to clarify your interpretation by writing it down. The purpose of the 2nd section is to list any questions that the issue raises for you. The purpose of the 3rd section is to list any tasks that you should undertake as a result. Anyone who has graduated with a business-related degree should already be familiar with this process.
Organizing structured notes separately
You should then transfer your notes to a separate study notebook, preferably one that enables easy referencing, such as a MS Word Document, a MS Excel Spreadsheet, a MS Access Database, or a personal organizer on your cell phone. Transferring your notes allows you to have the opportunity of cross-checking and verifying them, which assists considerably with understanding and interpretation. You will also find that the better you are at doing this, the more chance you will have of ensuring that you achieve your study objectives.
Question your understanding
Do challenge your understanding. Explain things to yourself in your own words by writing things down.
Clarifying your understanding
If you are at all unsure, forward an email to your tutorial support unit and they will help to clarify your understanding.
Question your interpretation
Do challenge your interpretation. Qualify your interpretation by writing it down.
Clarifying your interpretation
If you are at all unsure, forward an email to your tutorial support unit and they will help to clarify your interpretation.
The student will need to successfully complete the project study and all of the exercises relating to the Strategic Planning corporate training program, achieving a pass with merit or distinction in each case, in order to qualify as an Accredited Strategic Planning Specialist (ASPS). All monthly workshops need to be tried and tested within your company. These project studies can be completed in your own time and at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home or office. There are no formal examinations, assessment is based upon the successful completion of the project studies. They are called project studies because, unlike case studies, these projects are not theoretical, they incorporate real program processes that need to be properly researched and developed. The project studies assist us in measuring your understanding and interpretation of the training program and enable us to assess qualification merits. All of the project studies are based entirely upon the content within the training program and they enable you to integrate what you have learnt into your corporate training practice.
Strategic Planning – Grading Contribution
Project Study – Grading Contribution
Customer Service – 10%
E-business – 05%
Finance – 10%
Globalization – 10%
Human Resources – 10%
Information Technology – 10%
Legal – 05%
Management – 10%
Marketing – 10%
Production – 10%
Education – 05%
Logistics – 05%
TOTAL GRADING – 100%
A mark of 90% = Pass with Distinction.
A mark of 75% = Pass with Merit.
A mark of less than 75% = Fail.
If you fail to achieve a mark of 75% with a project study, you will receive detailed feedback from the Certified Learning Provider (CLP) and/or Accredited Consultant, together with a list of tasks which you will need to complete, in order to ensure that your project study meets with the minimum quality standard that is required by Appleton Greene. You can then re-submit your project study for further evaluation and assessment. Indeed you can re-submit as many drafts of your project studies as you need to, until such a time as they eventually meet with the required standard by Appleton Greene, so you need not worry about this, it is all part of the learning process.
When marking project studies, Appleton Greene is looking for sufficient evidence of the following:
Pass with merit
A satisfactory level of program understanding
A satisfactory level of program interpretation
A satisfactory level of project study content presentation
A satisfactory level of Unique Program Proposition (UPP) quality
A satisfactory level of the practical integration of academic theory
Pass with distinction
An exceptional level of program understanding
An exceptional level of program interpretation
An exceptional level of project study content presentation
An exceptional level of Unique Program Proposition (UPP) quality
An exceptional level of the practical integration of academic theory
In the module that we have just completed, we focused on the company’s Mission, Vision and Values. On these three statements lie success or failure. These three statements define a company. They define why the company is in business, its mission or purpose, what is the vision of the future, if the mission is carried out successfully, and the values that underly how the business is conducted. In the next module, we will examine goals, both personal and company, and we will determine how much they are aligned.
You will have to develop your own personal goals or redefine them if they are already determined. As we will examine your personal goals to see if they are attainable, and if so, what the company’s goals need to be in order for you to reach these goals. When we talk about personal goals, we mean long term goals. For every individual long term means something different. For the thirty something, long term is thirty or more years in the future. Included would be gaining enough financial assets, so as be able to retire and live in the fashion they desire, so as not to be burden on their children. It could include have a retirement home, and a vacation home. It could include having their children educated to the degree desired. It can be whatever the individual wants. For the thirty somethings it will normally include various sub goals, as these people have, hopefully, long lives to live.
For the fifty something, personal goals are twenty to twenty-five years in the future. They too have sub goals, and probably as many, if not more than the younger folks. The fifty something crowd is more concerned with retirement and has finished, or can see the finish line, with their children’s education. But now, they have the additions of retirement life starring at them from closer in. With retirement arriving sooner, they have to make plans for insurance to cover old age expenses. This group is closer to retirement, so that their goals reflect that perspective.
The sixty something and older group have retirement on their doorstep. They are, hopefully, beyond the planning stages and into the realization that their plans will provide financial, spiritual, and family support. They are more interested in leaving a legacy for the next generations. Part of their goals will include that.
So, as you can see, various people in various stages of life, will have varying goals depending on which stage they’re in. Each of these goals has to be in alignment with the company goals in order for everyone to realize them.
Your task in preparing for the next module is to think about your personal goals. What are the physical goals, the financial goals, and the spiritual goals? How do you feel you can attain them? What do you really want to leave to your heirs? What legacy do you wish to be remembered for? These and many other questions need to be asked by you, to you, so as you will have full knowledge of what your personal goals are. For each goal, determine how you will be able to attain it. Determine how much money you will need. What the assets you need to have acquired, so that you can actually fulfil your goals. Buying a vacation, house in the mountains requires funding. You need to determine where it will come from. Devoting your later years to missionary work required funding to support you and your spouse. With no other income except what you will receive from investments and retirement accounts, will it support your mission life? You should be well prepared to discuss you goals and to compare them to the company goals, as well as the other members of the team, in later modules.
Then there are company goals. You should be aware of what they are. You should know their timeline. Normally, companies define goals as doing a thing in a set amount of time. Reaching a profit level of ten million dollars by end of 2022, for example. These are nice targets, but they are not the goals we will discuss. These will be treated as targets that support the overall company goals. Depending on the company, its long-term goals can be end of this year, three years from now, or possible, ten years. With today’s push on earnings quarter by quarter, few companies have true long-term goals. We define long term as twenty or more years in the future. With public companies it is difficult to get off the short-term earnings merry go round. With private companies, it is easier to do. But even private companies have notes with banks, that have covenants attached, outside investors who wish to gain from the company’s success as well as numerous vendors of material and services. All of these will exert pressure on returns. But, even with the varying pressures to get earnings, companies need to have a view of where they want to be in the long run. Without such a view, you get to where you are without knowing really how your got there. How many companies have changed their products chasing the next shining thing? How many companies have lost their primary customers to serve a market niche? If your long-term goal is to shrink you customer base, or change your products, you will craft a plan to do so. And, you will know where you are on the plan and what to do to get on track when you are off that track.
The SPP theory begins with the realization that there must be an alignment of personal and business goals to succeed. If they are not aligned one or both will suffer. If personal goals are dominant, the business will be less successful than if there was alignment. If business goals are given preference the leadership will experience a personal loss. This loss could be financial, personal, physical or psychological. None of this is acceptable. In the SPP the senior executives will develop their long-term personal goals. Long term will be defined as it differs with business type. For a Fortune 100 company long term might be five years or less. For a private company or a family-owned company, it could be twenty years or more. The long-term horizons are very different and require different goals to attain.
The business’s Missions, Values, and Visions statements must be examined to determine their applicability to the strategic long term. A public company’s statements are probably focused on short term goals and meeting financial expectations. For publicly traded companies, the pressure for quarterly results is such that their attainment is top priority. For private companies, there are financial goals, but long-term sustainability might be of first consideration. Once the executive has articulated their long-term goals and their long-term horizon, and the mission, vision and values of the company have been examined, the executive’s personal goals can be detailed. The present company goals can then be examined to determine how they fit with the personal goals. There is seldom congruence between the personal and company goals and in this case, the deficiencies can be seen. This can be a particularly trying time for the executive who has worked hard for company success. In most cases, the personal goals will not be met with current company objectives and it is the executive’s job to ensure that they do. With all the short-term pressure applied to senior executives, it is not easy to strike a strategy that is long term, and is aimed at attaining goals that meet both business and personal targets. You should come to the next module with as full an understanding of the company’s long-term goals. Including the goals, its timeline, and if possible, what is the company’s legacy statement.
During this workshop we will beginning our journey to strategic planning. We do plan in various ways and in different disciplines. There are sales forecasts and sales plans. Financial plans are generated along with the budgets that describe in detail where the funds are planned to originate, and where we will spend them. Development has the task of producing the next product in our offering and they must anticipate our present customer and the future ones as well. What will they want in terms of basic performance? What new features and functions are they desiring or demanding and how can we improve on our products through redesign or modification? The development department will need time to do its work, and they will construct a plan to do so. That plan will contain staffing, funding necessary, and time estimates for final product being available. Once the product is designed, it is up to production to make it. The production plan will also be made up of many pieces. There will be a plan for additional or reassigning associates. There will be a plan for new or revised equipment to make the product. There will be a test plan to ensure that everything delivered is up to our customer promise. All of these plans and others are necessary to ensure that we bring a product to market successfully. And, after bringing it to the market, and for its continued delivery are generated for the continued production, sales, and delivery of it. During this workshop, we will be mapping the present process to better understand how it works, who is involved in it, and where the deficiencies exist. We will use what is our present process to understand what it is, and where we are starting in our march to a strategic plan. It is only through a thorough knowledge of the present, that we can move on to the future.
Although the methodology is similar, strategic planning is different from the planning we have done in the past. Achieving the goals of a strategic plan requires the use of all the other plans to execute and deliver. Normally, planning is done by the company executives, or the board of directors, or by sales, marketing, or finance. Whichever is the case, the plan is to generate so much revenue for the next year, and from that revenue to harvest as much profit as we can. We will do this exercise annually, and redo it until the numbers are what the executive office expects. Each function will promise to do their part in generating the profit. Development will engineer new or improved products. Sales will sell them to existing customers and find new customers as well, production will make the products and finance will make sure everyone meets the financial targets. Some how this works, and we get the projected profits, and everyone gets their bonus. That is what it is all about, is it not?
With all of this short-range planning, we need to understand what long range plans are made and how they are generated. This will allow us to ascertain how long-range plans are generated in the company. Each company has its own unique method for planning, especially for long-range planning. More is at stake with long range plans. Typically, long-range plans are made for the introduction of new products. The auto industry is famous for their new model introductions. Planning for these new models takes multi-years and the planning covers all aspects of the introduction from development, to marketing, to production and distribution. Another long-range planning effort is when a company wishes to enlarge its facilities by expansion of existing plants or building a new one. These are multi-year efforts involving many disciplines. Marketing will be tasked with ensuring that the product demand is such that the additional facility is necessary. Production will be tasked with producing additional products. They will plan to hire additional associates, to buying any necessary production equipment, and to purchase any required raw materials. Perhaps the most critical planning occurs when a company is involved in a merger or acquisition. Both sides of these transactions are fraught with financial risk. The acquirer is concerned with paying a reasonable price and will use an unbiased valuation to determine its offer. The buyer is often interested in the acquisition to expand its product offering, or to provide cost reductions due to the size of the combined companies, or any of a myriad benefit. The seller is interested in selling for the best price the company will command. The seller may have some non-financial considerations for the sale, such as continued employment for long term employees. Both buyer and seller will do due diligence to determine if the sale is in their best interests.
The m&a planning process begins well in advance of the due diligence process. Some companies have a strategy of acquiring one to three companies each year. Their m&a process is well documented. Other companies have a strategy of acquiring another company every two to three years. Their acquisition planning is good, but not as thorough as the companies who do these deals more routinely. Other companies wait until an acquisition is presented to them. They may or may not have planning that is robust. In any case, planning can eliminate most of the issues that companies face in these actions. Strategic planning is planning for the long term, but at the same time planning for the mid and near term actions. This combined length of planning horizons is one of strategic planning’s biggest attributes. By linking long term goals and strategies to short term plans, strategic planning introduces longevity to the planning cycle. This is unique in that most plans are limited in time. Even the most elaborate new product release is seldom as long as the strategic planning window. However, we need to know how our company does its long-term plans, even if they are not as long as a strategic plan’s length. We will use as much of what we now do, rather than re-invent what is not necessary. In this workshop, we will map, using the exercises provided, our existing planning methods.
The purpose of these exercises is to understand the present process of planning utilized in your company. The first task to be accomplished is to list each of the processes that will be mapped. These will include the annual budget, sales plan, product development plan, production plan, procurement plan, customer service plan, service plan, and returns plan. We will map those processes which are aimed at planning the future. For each of these plans, we will next generate the steps necessary to develop that plan. For each step, we will innumerate the precursor and following steps; the person or function that will generate it, the approvals necessary before its inclusion in the plan, and any interactions with other people, functions, or plans. Some of the plans will be simple, others will be very complex, with many interactions and decision loops. We will begin with the simpler processes and construct basic swim lane diagrams.
The actual construction of the diagrams can be done in several ways. The easiest way is to draw them by hand. The medium can be paper pads, paper rolls for longer processes, white board, or any other material that you are comfortable with. Just remember, that you will want to share your diagrams with others, so and chose the one that will fulfil all your requirements. There are various computer programs that aid in the construction of the diagrams. They can be constructed with Excel, Visio, Word or some specialized programs. I recommend keeping which ever one you use as simple as possible. The processes we will map are surprisingly complex, and mapping them with an unfamiliar tool can be frustrating and less than useful. We will start our mapping exercises by using the hand drawn method to start.
Select a process that you are familiar with. It should be fairly well defined as to the steps in the process, the approvals throughout the process, key milestones, anticipated or required due dates, and a beginning and ending points. The annual budget process is one of these. Your product development cycle might also serve as one of these. Let us use the budget as an example. The budget process for next year starts in the present year. The executive team determines the goals for the next year in terms of sales revenue, profits, capital expenditures, expenses, and other expenses. Usually, finance prepares a preliminary budget and sends it, along with the executive level goals, to each function with a request for them to prepare their departmental budgets. Using the information given, each function determines their individual financial needs. Based on the goals, the functions make plans that will allow them to achieve their part of the goals. Sales may feel they need additional salespeople. There may be a need for on-line selling and the hiring of differently skilled people. To manufacture the amount of product planned to be sold, production may need more production equipment, increasing the capital expenditures. As each of the functions is familiar with the others’ plans, this building of financial needs is an ongoing exercise, and at budget time, the functions are constantly interacting with each other. There is a continual battle with contradicting goals. The sales goal and the various cost goals are often at odds with the profit goal. The budget process should be structured to make adjustments in the individual functional budgets, so as to meet the overall goal.
To focus on the planning that is forward looking, we will concentrate on plans for future revenues and profits and diagram them. Let’s first look at revenues. They are composed, for most companies, of sales of goods and services. This is the amount of money the company receives, less credits, and other discounts. It’s basis is how much product will be sold and at what price, over the next twelve months. It is time dependent, in that sales occur and revenue is realized, over a discrete time period. If product is sold in each month, revenue will be recognized each month. If the product or services is project based and revenue is only received at key milestones or at the successful conclusion of the project, revenues are realized at that point.
In order to realize a profit, sales have to be priced correctly. As profit equals revenue less cost, it is tempting to increase profit by increasing sales via price reduction. The logic is if the price is reduced, we will sell more product, and the loss of revenue will be more than offset by the higher volume. This is especially true when the increased sales are incremental business. This is a tricky game to play as at some point the price loses its elasticity and the reduced revenue is not offset by legacy sales.
On the other side of the equation is cost. If cost is reduced, profits will increase. This is why every company conducts cost reduction programs. But cost reduction must be approached with caution. Every cost reduction proposal contains the possibility of introducing inferior materials or processes into the manufacturing chain. A lower priced raw material may be of inferior grade. A reduction in staffing might produce a lower quality product. Each of these could result in customers cancelling orders and the loss of revenue.
Price of product or services also enters into the conversation of revenue, cost and profit. How prices are set is both an art and a science. The science is that it must be set so that the revenue less all the costs equals the desired profit. The art is knowing the market you compete in and the general pricing philosophy, as displayed by competitor pricing, and then deciding via pricing strategy, where you will price your products. Too high, and you do not sell enough product. Too low, and you sell a lot of product but do not make a profit.
As you can see, just focusing on revenue uncovers many other processes that are intertwined. Each of these will require a process map, which shows how they interact with each other. Once you have prepared all the required maps, you will have a general idea of how these various processes work, how they are interconnected, and how they influence each other. With this knowledge, you will be able to analyze the processes.
During the process analysis, we study the process to ascertain where problems exist. We have constructed flow diagrams of the process and that is where we will start the analysis. The flow diagrams provide a pictorial description of the process and with a little deductive reasoning indicate potential problem areas.
In order for a process to be effective, it should be a smoothly flowing process as depicted in your flow diagrams. One of the first places to look for inefficiencies is where the process flow is disturbed. Disturbances occur at branch points. Where the process makes a branch to determine a decision, or determine if the product is sufficient to proceed, there is the potential for an eddy in the flow, which will cause the process to be interrupted. If there are loop backs in the flow, there is another potential eddy in the flow. Many processes contain loops that are involved with retrofit or repair. An inspection is made, and the product is determined to be not as acceptable. The decision is either to scrap the product, or to correct it so as to make it acceptable. This applies to hardware, software, and documentation. A machined part is not to dimension. A software patch does not fix the intended coding issue. An insurance application does not have the applicants date of birth noted. All of these occurrences will result in one of three decisions, throw it away, redo it to make it correct, or ignore the deficiency and pass it on. All of these decisions have cost, time, and customer satisfaction associated with them.
The people who know most about the process, are those who live with it. In manufacturing, it is the people who assemble the products who know. In planning, it is the people who construct the plans or provide the documentation that the plans are built on, who understand it the most.
Whoever is the most conversant with the process, is the one to be identified as the source for actually knowing the process and how it really works. It would behove you to interview these people to find out where the bottlenecks occur, where parts are made incorrectly, where costs are incurred, where the delays in the process are. Identifying where the team members or customers experience the greatest frustration is another indicator of non-optimal process flow. Interviewing the people in direct contact with the process and the customers will ensure that you discover areas that need to be improved. In short, these people will be able to detail those elements in the process, which if remedied, will improve the flow, improve the products produced and ensure customer satisfaction.
When you have identified the areas that are not operating at the level they should, you will then turn to determining why the issues exist. Identification of the issues only uncovers the symptoms of the problems. It does not detail the true cause of the problem, and only the discovery of the true issues can lead to full correction. There are many ways and methods to reach the true cause of the issue. There is root cause analysis, cause and effect analysis, Izakaya analysis, and many others. They all are intended to bring the primary, root cause to light. They ask the question, “Why is that so”, until there is a root answer. As an example, consider a customer complaint that they are receiving goods that arrive damaged. The question asked is to describe the damage, which the customer does. The goods are partially crushed and dented and no longer usable. They send pictures of the damage and it is apparent that there is a problem. A team is dispatched to the customers facility to examine the damage and to see if the goods are received damaged. They do, and moreover, they are seen to be damaged before unloading. This raises the question, “Is the shipper doing something that is causing the damage?”. An examination of the trucks at the suppliers loading dock indicates that some of the goods are damaged when they are put on the trucks, while others are not. But, no one knows how this can happen. The packing skids are matched to the loading forklift equipment. The shipping dock personal have all been trained in how to load the trucks so as not to damage the goods. Then, one of the investigators askes one of the loading dock people how he thinks the damage is happening. He replies, “Sometimes we get behind and we use the bigger forklifts to load, and if we’re not careful, the forks poke into the crates”. The problem is not doing the job as specified and having non-specified outcomes.
As the people who do the job are the most aware of the issues, they can be aware of possible fixes. It pays dividends to ask them what they would do to improve the process. Keep in mind that their answer will be concentrated around their part of the process. Their answer may be very beneficial for the part of the process for which they are concerned, but if implemented would degrade the overall process. Improving parts of any process is seldom a way to improve the overall process. No matter how rational sub-optimization appears, the sum of the sub-optimizations will not be the maximal improvement desired.
There is another group to interview when analyzing a process. They are the people who originally designed the process and understand what it is intended to do, and how it was modified over time to what we have today. These people have a vested interest in the process and your investigation can make them assets or not. It is in your interest and the interest of the analysis to treat them as allies in the analysis process. In some cases, only they will have the technical know-how to unravel a particular problem and certify a revised one.
In doing your analysis, remember that you are not inventing a new replacement process. You are analyzing an existing process, determining where it is deficient, and improving it to the betterment of all concerned. This is the time to collect data that will uncover the deficiencies in the process. You will have the flow diagrams that you constructed earlier to guide you, and to indicate potential constriction points. The process of this exercise is to first verify the flow diagrams. With those people who live with the process on a daily basis, you will examine the process flows, determine the pinch points, and determine the time taken during each process step. Starting at the end of the process flow, you will ascertain how the process enters this step, if there are any backups at this step, who is performing work at this step, and who is managing the step. You will also have to determine who is the last person to handle the process at the preceding step, when the last step was entered and when it was competed. You will also record the names of the people you interview, not to cast blame, but to be able to gain clarification, if at a later date, it is necessary. As you analyze the process, you should vet that the flow diagram is a representation of the actual process flow and not a best case that is not reality.
You will record this data in your data log. The data log will have at least one page for every branch and connection on the flow diagram. On each page, you will record the same information: the name(s) of the people who operate or manage the flow, the times to and through the operations, is the flow vetted, and any narrative regarding non-smooth, non-uniform flow. These will be as fully documented as possible, and the views of the operators and managers as to remedies will be noted. Those responsible for the lay out of the process will be consulted to determine their views. As the constructors of the process, they will have unique knowledge of how the process works, why it was constructed as it is, and as we will see in the redesign section, they will be the leads on implementing any changes.
During the interviews of the people involved with the process, it will be useful to determine what is right and what is not. The parts of the process that operate correctly, may be copied and used in other parts of the process improving the flow there. The parts that are not, may be found in other process legs and the identification of the issues, and its eventual remedy, will be beneficial.
Remember, that the purpose of the analysis is to identify issues that will be corrected in the redesign of the process. In order to do this, we must determine the root cause of the issue, not just the symptom. This process is called root cause analysis. It examines the symptoms of the problem and determines the cause of the symptom. In most cases, the root cause is not easily identifiable in the first pass and the analysis has to be carried down several levels to the first cause. Consider the case where material backups occur sporadically at a particular point in the process. When analyzed, the first reason given is that the process point under examination is not properly staffed. The manager believes that there is insufficient staffing and adding two more people will solve the problem. When examined, it is realized that the addition of more resources will create an over staffing situation for most of the day, when there is no back up. Doing root cause analysis, is intended to bring the cause of the issue to light first, and then to implement corrective action. In this case, an examination revealed that an earlier part of the process was conducted in a batch mode. The parts required painting and then curing of the paint. The paint line was loaded, the parts painted all at once, and then allowed to cure on the line. This allows the paint line to be utilized more completely. But, it interrupted the flow downstream, when all the parts were removed from the line and introduced to the next step in the process. A redesign of the paint line operation allowed unloading to be accomplished in a fashion that more suited the next step.
The simplest way to do root cause analysis, is often to use the Seven Questions method. This method starts with the identification of a problem, and asks the question, “Why did this happen?”. The answer is normally not the root cause. The first question is followed by a second asking, “Why is that so?”. The questions are asked until the root cause is identified. The name, Seven Questions, comes from experience that seven questions usually revel the root cause. As in the interviews above, you will record in your data log, the conversations that determined the root cause. You may wish to combine root cause analysis with brain storming. When the answer or solution is not readily apparent, brainstorming possible answers can be helpful. Just remember to capture all of the brainstormed ideas in you log.
Another technique often used is FMEA, failure mode and effect analysis. Although, it is most useful in designing processes or equipment to anticipate failures, it is also useful in our work. The basis for FMEA is that any part of a product or process can only fail in a few ways, and that these failure modes can have a predicted effect. With processes, we can see the effect of the failure. These effects are back logs, pinch points, unnecessary rework, and other non-smooth flow. Recognizing that these effects are caused by certain failures can allow us to pinpoint our analysis to where these failures can occur. This method of using forethought can shorten the time from first symptom recognition, to the root cause of the symptom.
With all of the information you have harvested, it is now time to date the process flow charts to incorporate the information regarding symptoms and causes. Your data logs will be rich with information on issues which can be transposed onto the flow diagram. Use of colorful makers and notes will make the study apparent and indicate where issues occur. Although, it would be nice to fix every issue, there are some that are more critical than others. It is time to prioritize the issues we have found during the analysis. With them identified, it is time once again, to go to the source and determine the impact of each issue. The people who work the flow, will have their view on impact. The managers will have their views and they may be different. As the effort is to make the flow as smooth as possible, those that disturb the flow have a greater impact than others. The way to measure the impact is to consider the process as producing a product. The productivity of the process is the measure of its effectiveness. The more product produced over time sets the priority. It may be that the absolute quantity is less important than other measures, whichever, is the metric for assigning priority to the re-design effort, use it to prioritize the list of issues you have generated.
Now that you have identified the problems identified in your process analysis efforts, it is time to determine how you will fix the process, how you will redesign it. In the redesign effort, you should get the people with whom you have worked during the analysis. There will be several who you may have identified who are especially good at understanding the process and its issues and are equally excited to change it into a better process. These are the people who you need on your redesign team. They know the process and know you, having worked in the analysis efforts before. Your first task is to form a team of improvers. Once formed, the improvement team needs to hear that they have executive approval to formulate the changes and implement them. They need to hear that this will not be another program of the month and be abandoned when the next one comes along. With the encouragement of management, they will be successful.
One important task is to make sure everyone is aligned with what the process is intended to do. If differing members of the team think that the process has differing objectives, you will not get the improved process that everyone wants. It is easy to overbuild or under build a process when you are in redesign mode. Some team members may see the redesign as their opportunity to enhance the process to do what they have thought it should do. Others may see that this is their time to cost reduce the process. Either can have devastating results. One can be too expensive and the other not capable of producing the desired outcome. Once everyone is on board, you can, as a team, explore the problems identified. If there have been solutions already noted, start your list of potential remedies with them. Then brainstorm with the team for further changes. In brainstorming it is important to note down everyone’s ideas regardless of cost, practicality, or possibility. In brainstorming, every idea is of equal value until analyzed.
You will most likely get some potential redesign ideas from the analysis that you have performed earlier. Some processes, such as sales, business and production planning, are designed to be accomplished every year, often with little or no continuity with past plans, although there is continuity with financial performance. Strategic planning with its long-term view requires that the plan needs to be constructed differently than the other plans. As it is not just a numbers exercise but is a truly long-term plan to reach long term goals, its design will be different than the planning process used by many organizations. As change is difficult for most people, the implementation of change has to be carefully prepared for so that it can be accomplished as smoothly as possibly.
Once you have all the ideas for possible the new process, it is time to analyze each idea. Many of the potential improvements will have been generated during brainstorming exercises. Their validity, cost, implementation time, and process improvement impact have not been identified. As we will redesign the process with only the best ideas, we will need to determine each of the improvements’ attributes and then rank them in order of effectiveness, practicality, cost, and overall usefulness. That means we must take each idea and determine if it will, in fact, improve the flow of the process. That is the first test, and the one for which the redesign is being conducted. Next, we need to understand the cost of implementing each of the improvements. Although cost is not the number one concern, it is always important. The time necessary for implementation is also to be considered. If the redesign requires that the process be so interrupted that it is not usable for a substantial time period, its eventual improvement may not be worth the cost in lost time. If this is the case, alternate implementation plans may be necessary. Perhaps the improvement can be developed off-line and then quickly inserted in the process, disrupting the process minimally. Every avenue must be analyzed for each improvement so as to fend off most of the disruptions that occur with redesign.
With each implementation idea being analyzed, it is now time to prioritize them so as to pick which implementation will be finally used in the redesign. The top ideas will be further analyzed. They will be translated into real life solutions. An idea that requires additional skilled people will necessitate the hiring and training of these new people. An idea that requires a different mechanical part in a manufacturing flow will require that that part be designed and fabricated. A software bug fix will require that new code be written, tested, and installed. This effort can take days, weeks, of even months to be accomplished. Some of the real-life solutions will cause an idea to be shelved.
The implementation of any change is felt in the process, and it is necessary that the impact of the change be understood. Will the change only effect its immediate area, of will it have farther ranging effects. Will the improvements the change provides be countered by the introduction of new difficulties in another part of the process. If so, what can be done to further improve it. Many times, the improvement in flow in one part of the process will have a ripping effect and disrupt another part. There may be possible impediments to the redesigned process. These rocks will need careful consideration to remove them for the flow. These rocks can be physical restraints, people’s prejudices, legal requirements, or regulatory. If they cannot be removed, other plans to deal with them will have to be devised. During the analysis phase of this workshop, we introduced FMEA, failure mode and effect analysis. This is a useful tool and can be used to determine the failure points and their impact on the process, so as to correct issues early in the redesign efforts.
Some processes interact with customers directly. Many on-line transactions, banking activities, or retail sales are some of them. With the changes that resign brings to the process, it is ofttimes essential to map the customer experience to ascertain the impact on them. A redesigned process that is difficult for customers to use will, in all probability, drive customer away, losing sales revenue in the process. An analysis using the customer experience mapping technique will reveal these difficulties allowing corrective action before customers actually see the redesigned product.
With the results from all the above action, you will be able to select the preferred redesign action. Once selected, it is necessary to modify the process flow maps. These new maps are then analyzed to be assured that the new flow is as desired and that nothing negative has been introduced.
Your first task, if not already accomplished, is to form a redesign team. Team members should include some, if not all of your analysis team, The team should also include a few of the people who work in and with the process, those that will have to implement the changed, redesigned process, and others who you may identify that can influence the process acceptance and implementation. You will need to prepare a listing of all potential redesign team members, both active members and advisory members. The active members will be the ones that you select to actually redesign the process. The advisory members will be those who do not have a direct impact on the process, but who are impacted by the success of the redesign. Some of these may be down-stream processes which are fed by the process redesigned area. If their part of the overall process flow is adversely affected, they will not support the redesign. It is necessary to identify who would be affected most and have them on the team in an advisory role. Once you have identified the redesign team members that are preferred, you will form the team as you did with the analysis team.
The next step is for the team to come together to define the process’ objective. It is necessary that all team members have their input heard. You will accomplish this by the use of brainstorming. Brainstorming is a free form method of idea generation. It is intended to gather all ideas without accessing them. In a brainstorm, no idea is left behind. It will be the leader’s job to capture all of the brainstorm ideas. The best method for this is to use large flip charts, white boards, or any other large visual device. The media is not that important as long as all ideas are noted, and they are visible to all of the team. Some brainstorming sessions produce so many ideas that two or more recorders are needed to ensure their capture. You and the team are the best judge of how many recorders are necessary, but it is better to have too many then too few. To ensure that all ideas are gathered, you will have to be certain that everyone gets a chance to contribute. There are several methods for doing this. You may have noticed who is and who is not contributing to the brainstorming. After proceeding for a while, you can go around the room and ask the non-contributors what their ideas are. You can, one at a time, ask everyone on the team for ideas. Any method is acceptable as long as it is not embarrassing, and ensures all inputs are recorded.
With all of the brainstorming ideas noted, you and the team will analyze each idea. To make the task easier and more controlled, each idea should be given a number. It is easier to refer to a number than to read the idea and find it among the others. The first pass of the analysis is to combine ideas that are the same or similar. You can use either idea numbers for the group, or generate a new one, which ever one makes most sense to the group. With the grouping accomplished, the team is asked if any of the ideas can be eliminated. Be careful at this step. An idea that is eliminated may alienate the person who suggested it. If elimination is suggested, the originator must have an opportunity to explain their suggestion more completely, or agree that it should be eliminated, before it is stricken off. In all cases, create a section of the visual device for capturing eliminated ideas. Normally this area is labelled as the bin, but use your own creativity for its name.
The next step is to prioritize the ideas for redesign. You will have to remind the team of the process objectives and to keep them in mind as we rank the ideas. The ideas that fulfil the objectives should be ranked higher than others. At this point, cost, practicality, ease of implementation, and any other attribute should be considered as secondary. There are many methods for determining ranking, and as long as they produce the desired results, all are satisfactory. However, it is important that the team have input on the method selection process. One method is called the N over three method. Its aim is to force the evaluators to determine priorities in three groups. In this method, N is the total number of ideas. This number divided by three equals the number of votes each team member can cast. Team members are instructed to vote for what they think are the best ideas for reaching the process objectives. Each team member casts their votes privately, by idea number. When all have completed their secret voting, the leader asks for the votes for each idea by show of hands. Normally, the votes will be clustered and the highest priority ideas clearly identified. Another method for selection, is to have every member vote for each idea and assign it a high, medium or low priority. They are allowed equal number of votes for each priority, but each priority is assigned a number of votes equal to one-third the total number of ideas. As in the method above, the high priority ideas will be easily identified.
With the priorities established, it is time to further analyze the ideas. Each re-design idea should be subjected to a series of analysis. These should include an impact analysis, a risk analysis, a failure mode and effect analysis, and, if applicable, a customer experience analysis. Each of the potential re-designs must have a positive impact on the process and no negative impacts. The best way to determine this is to substitute the process change into the process map and determine the impact of the change. A risk analysis needs to be performed to determine negative impacts and the risk to the process. What is the downside to the redesign, does it affect downstream or upstream activities, will it negatively affect throughput, and will it have financial impact? The FMEA will uncover any impacts to the process when the redesign fails, and just like the old process, it will. Will these failures be within the normal maintenance cycle, will they be quickly remedied, and can the process withstand them? If customers interface with the process, what will be their experience with the redesign? If the redesign is transparent to customers, it will have no impact on them. If it changes their experience, is it positive or negative, and what is the plan to interact with customers in a proactive way? Each of the ideas needs to be analyzed and then the team can select the ideas that are to be implemented in the redesign.
With the redesign established, it is time to update the process flow map and examine it for any unintended consequences. The process flow should be smooth, and the process objectives should be attainable.
So now you have analyzed the old process and redesigned it. You have examined the new process thoroughly and determined that it will be an improvement over the old process. Now comes the implementation of the redesigned process, and implementation requires resources. Resources include people, people to do the detailed engineering of the equipment used in the process, people to do special set ups for any physical process lay out or equipment changes, people for any system changes necessitated by the redesign, people to staff the redesigned process, if the existing people do not possess the necessary skills, people to retrain the existing employees to operate with the redesigned process or to be able to take on new tasks. Some of these people may be found internally while others are only available from outside sources. Depending on the redesign, new equipment may be needed. The equipment may require more or different power. It may require recertification or reissuing of environmental requirements or permits. All of the myriad governmental agencies that must be contacted can all bring additional requirements to the redesign. And all of these require financial backing. Even when the non-financial requirements are known and planned for, if the financials are outside of the company’s ability or policies, there cannot be a redesign implementation.
The first step in securing resources is to identify everything you need to have a successful implementation of the redesigned process. You will most likely know what you need in your arena and should be readily able to identify them. But the farther you move from your area of expertise, the more likely you are to not know all that is involved, and therefore what the resource requirements might be. Luckily, there are others within the organization who do know, or who know where to get the information if they don’t. Some of them you know as you work with them on a daily basis. Some are less familiar as you may not work with them frequently or at all. Some you will know from reputation or through others. The senior management is always a good source of information, as they have much experience and a wealth of knowledge. They may have even first-hand knowledge of the existing process.
Senior management of other areas are also a good source of resources needed, and some may be able to assist in its being acquired. Human Resources is sure to be included in the implementation process. It is in their interest to identify the people impacted, the HR issues that may arise, any hiring of additional employees, their training, the reallocation and re-training of existing employees are all under their umbrella of responsibility. You will eventually present your redesign to the executive managers for their approval, and it is never too early to make their acquaintance. Asking them for their advice and guidance regarding resources will involve them in the project at the right time. Although, the design may be completed, the engineering and support have not. The financial studies have progressed to the point where the redesign seems practical, but not to the point of including all potential expenses. The guidance of the executives may point out opportunities that you may not be aware of. They may know people in other areas of the company who can assist with the implementation. Due to their positions in the company, they have access to more people and knowledge. Remember to seek the advice of every department affected by the redesign, even if it is not readily apparent of their involvement. Sales will have an interest if there is any indication of customer delivery issues. Finance will be interested if there will be any indication of customers withholding payment due to lapse in quality or delivery. Product or service development may have new versions of the products or service which may completely revamp the offering, negating the process redesign. There are potential impacts in every area with the redesign of the process and asking for advice from each area will produce a better design and head off possible conflicts later.
You will need to communicate with every possibly impacted department to explain the new redesigned process. They need to understand how the redesigned process works, how it is different from the old process, what problems it solves, and all of its benefits. The redesign should benefit the organization as an entirety. If it is so parochial that it only makes an improvement in one small area and not the company as a whole, it may not be worth spending resources on the redesign, but be better spending them on other projects. If you do not show how the redesign is of benefit overall, those that have to approve the project will not guess at the benefits. It is your project and up to you and your team to show the rest of the organization why the redesign should be implemented.
A problem which plagues every organization is finance. There is never enough funding to pay for all of the proposed projects and some very deserving ones will not get approved each year. Every company has it rules for selecting which projects will be funded each year. There are some that are mandated by governmental regulations. There are multi-year projects which are part way in the implementation. There are projects which will provide capacity which is already sold. Each of these, and others of like ilk, will be approved due to the benefit or need. So how can you differentiate your project from the others that are not automatically approved? The best approach is to assume a business mind set and build a business case for the project. In it will be the present case, its issues and problems, a future case with the improvement that are anticipated. Also included is a financial analysis. This analysis will enumerate the costs of the present case. It will list all of the costs associated with the process flow, including direct costs, costs of delinquent deliveries, scrap and reject costs, lost sales costs, and any other cost that can be attributed to the old design. Then, estimates of the costs with the new redesigned process, what savings are anticipated and, if additional sales can be anticipated, and what the addition margin will be.
Also, a full listing of the implementation costs is included as well as a return on investment (ROI) calculation. Most companies have a ROI threshold that any investment project must meet. It can be any number that the company believes it should be. Most companies want to have improvement projects pay for themselves in one to two years. Some have an ROI of two of higher. When you are talking with your financial department managers and executives, you should ascertain the ROI hurdle. If your project does not meet or better the target, and there is no other compelling reason for its approval, your redesign will be rejected, and you will have to go back and do all of your work again. But, doing your homework and knowing that you met the ROI target will add to your confidence when presenting the project plan and raise you and your team higher in the eyes of management.
It is imperative that you and your team identify all of the resources necessary for the implementation of the redesigned process. Successful completion of projects has been postponed or even cancelled due to resources that were not identified at the start not being available. You should start a resources logbook, either a physical or an electronic book will suffice. Set up sections in the log for all of the various types of resources necessary. List in your log the resource, where to get it, who’s permission is needed to obtain the resource, and when it is needed.
The most complete method for determining resource requirements is to prepare a business case. Business cases are routinely prepared to justify capital expenditures and for these types of cases, there is a set formula for preparing the case. For a redesigned process, the set formula type of business case will not suffice. This business case will be much more detailed and will involve more departments and people.
Let us examine the business case we will be constructing. The first section will contain the rational for the expenditure of funds, and the redesigned process. You will have to describe the process before redesign, what it is intended to accomplish, and what is the actuality. A manufacturing process will have as its intent, the production of product at a certain rate and quality level. It will have a purpose to both downstream and upstream processes. It will accommodate the input from the upstream process, in that it will be able to receive it and process it without creating any backlogs or bottle necks in the flow. If there is no product involved, such as a customer service call center, there is still an expectation of call volume the center can handle and how long each transaction takes.
A customer interaction, be it an order, a question, or a complaint is handled in a prescribed manner. This is the process for the managing of the calls. If the process cannot manage the calls due to unanticipated inquires, or process systems inadequacies, or improperly trained associates, the process will be interrupted and cause too much time to be spent on each call. Whatever the process, you must give a clear understanding of the intent and the reality of the situation. For this particular process, you should provide a listing of the present state shortfalls in productivity, quality or other attributes, as well as its impact to other parts of the process flow. You should document the cost of the impact, be it in increased processing cost, increase in customer dissatisfaction, customer rebates due to late or missing shipments, or other cos t elements. Costs are not always easy to identify. In the case of poor customer service in the call center, the cost could be loss of the customer and the customer’s sales. And, with customer dissatisfaction, you do not know how many other customers have the same issue, but have not called to complain. Studies have shown that for every customer that does complain, as many as seven or more express their dis-satisfaction by not doing business with you any longer.
Next, you must describe the redesigned process. Describe how the new process circumvents the issues that the old process has. Describe the analysis that was done to determine the best-case redesigned process. Include the people and departments that participated in the redesign process. They will add validity to the analysis results and the redesign itself. Describe how the implantation will be accomplished, how long it will take and any interruptions to the process. Be sure to be through and include all the elements necessary to go from the present state to the redesigned state. With your description of the redesigned process, you will need to predict the output of your redesign. Whether it is