Once again, 'tis the season for annual planning, an exercise that
fills managers with hope, dread, despair and anticipation. It's a
time when we contemplate the future of our organizations, technology
and personal fortunes.
For most companies, the planning process takes place in a
management meeting that can last as little as a few hours or as long
as a week. But most of the agendas for these meetings are basically
the same. They include:
What did we do this year?
What do we want to do next year?
Of course, hidden in these deceptively simple questions are myriad
subtle and difficult questions about technology, alignment, strategy,
priorities and budgeting. By adding just a few more questions, you're
more likely to garner the benefits of all this planning. It's equally
important to address the following:
- And, occasionally, Who's going to be responsible for making
next year's stuff happen?
- How did we work together this year?
- How do we want to work together next year?
These are important subjects, because most of what we'd like to do
fails to happen because of how we work together, not because we've
selected the wrong things to do. The dynamics of group functioning
are most often at the heart of project and organizational failures,
not poor planning.
- How can we make the transition from how we were to how we'd
like to be?
Here are four factors that will help you figure out whether your organizational
dynamics support or detract from achieving your goals.
Motivation. Perhaps the most important determinant of success
is the motivation level of your organization. Listless and disengaged
teams never achieve great things. No matter how well you plan what
these teams will do, they're unlikely to complete much. But truly
motivated groups can overcome deficits in virtually every other area
to achieve their goals.
Here are a few questions to ask about the motivation of your organization:
How motivated are your managers and project teams? How important is
it to them that their projects succeed? Do they care whether their
work supports a business purpose? How engaged are they with their
work and their co- workers?
Structure. How your people are organized to work together also
has a strong effect on group dynamics. More than just identifying
the chain of command, the structure of the group communicates a lot
about the values of the organization and delineates each individual's
role in its collective success.
So consider these questions: Does everyone understand the overall
structure? Is it easy for individuals to understand their own roles?
Does everyone understand their individual goals and how achieving
them will contribute to collective success?
Leadership. Leadership is particularly important because it
has the ability to transform all the other facets of group dynamics.
Good leadership offers the possibility of positive change rather than
stagnation or chaos.
Although a very complex subject, there are a few questions to ask
about the quality of your leadership team. How strong are our relationships
with our clients and peer organizations? How do the staffers feel
about their managers and one another? Do we have coherent and generally
accepted processes and goals?
Teamwork. Ultimately, work gets done by groups of people, usually
arranged into project teams. How well the members of these teams work
together, in many respects, dictates what they accomplish and their
ability to carry on after completing a project.
While teams in your organization probably have different strengths
and weaknesses, there are often patterns of attitudes and behaviors
across teams that are dictated by the organizational culture. For
example, do your people tend to trust one another? Do they engage
in constructive conflict, destructive conflict, or do they just avoid
it altogether? Do they really care about the results of their work,
or are they focused on other things?
Planning represents a significant investment of mental and emotional
energy for every organization. If you'd like to improve the return
on that investment, I'd advise planning for both what your group will
do and how you would like them to do it. With a little extra thought,
you can transform sterile annual planning into genuine organizational
(This article originally appeared in Computerworld USA and Computerworld
About the Author:
Paul Glen is the author of "Leading Geeks: How to Manage and Lead
People Who Deliver Technology" (Jossey Bass Pfeiffer, 2002) and Principal
of C2 Consulting. C2 Consulting helps clients build effective technology
organizations. Paul Glen regularly speaks for corporations and national
associations across North America. For more information go to http://www.c2-consulting.com.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
Read this newsletter at: http://www.itmanagementnews.com/2004/0105.html