Planning With Limited Visibility

by Jay Deragon on 08/15/2011

The times we live in are being formatted by perpetual and disruptive change. This kind of climate reduces visibility of future events prevously predictable.

Predictability is driven by identifiable patterns in data, behavior and variation. Variation comes from common and special causes.  Not knowing the difference means your reaction can actually make things worst.  Creating more special cause variation fuels unpredictability.  When things become unpredictable it is very difficult to visualize future performance.

What Fuels Change?

Change happens when what was expected turns into the unexpected. The stock market recently has created the unexpected. The recent internet developments and the pace of technological change has created chaotic and rapid unexpected changes. Consumerism is pushing against old business models, management methods and market influences.  The “push” is forcing organizational redesign, process re-engineering and the creation of a new and unexpected business eco-system.  It is innovation in thought, practice and application created by the customer that is fueling unexpected changes across all industries like never before.

Adjusting to Limited Visibility

Historically business leaders promoted the value of “long-term” planning as a tenant of modern management practices. However, given that global business matters are all in at state of flux planning for a future without real visibility into the future is fruitless.  

The future is in real-time changes that are unpredictable.  Given this environment the only realistic planning process is short term but with a vision of what the organization would like to accomplish in the future. Companies like Google, Apple, Facebook etc. have all adjusted to a marketplace with limited visibility. As such any planning is focused on quarterly objectives with the expectation that said plans could be disrupted at a moments notice.
When the future has limited visibility you have to adjust your site to short term objectives while keeping your mind on long term visions of what could be on the horizon.  The cycle time of adjustments reflect the dynamics of the marketplace. In other words, planning may go from quarterly to monthly to weekly.  Eventually you’ll see what the future holds.

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