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Oliver Wight EAME Blog

Managing change with Integrated Tactical Planning

6 May 2020


By Oliver Wight Partner, Dawn Howarth

There is no doubt that the coronavirus crisis has sparked a rise in armchair critics across the world with people quick to either commend or criticise their governments on the action plans put in place to attempt to respond quickly and effectively. These critics exist in the business world too. Everyone has an opinion, wants to be supplied with the latest version of ‘the truth as we know it’, and needs answers – fast.

If you have a good daily and weekly governance process in place - such as Integrated Tactical Planning - to manage the short-term execution of your plans and any changes make sure to stick to it! Don’t let it become overwhelmed or over-run by adding to the frequency, scope, or attendees. Yes, you may need to communicate to a wider audience or make the information more readily available, but a truly sustainable process will be able to handle whatever crisis is thrown at it. Special guests at these meetings can be tolerated occasionally, but as ever, somebody looking over your shoulder as you do a job seldom improves the outcome and often makes you very uncomfortable and self-conscious. Personally, I like the WebEx systems that allow you to kick somebody off a call – it’s amazing how many times you can blame the internet connection without them realising!

Every area of your business should be able to answer the following simple questions and provide communication to anyone who is impacted:

  • How did we do last week? 
  • Are we on track for this week?
  • What is in place for next week?
  • Can we still follow the IBP plan?
  • What are the main issues I need to resolve? 

You must have a forum where you can come together to discuss the key issues that need resolving to allow you to effectively execute the original IBP plan, agree to changes, and formally commit to the upcoming plans to the point of cumulative lead time. If the change is significant, only then should you escalate this back to leadership with recommendations and input from the people who understand the detail and know what is possible. And don’t forget actions and improvements. There is an awful lot we can learn from what is happening right now; be it how our operations perform at lower volumes, or market intelligence that we can translate into sales opportunities or our product portfolio in the future.  

Similarly, whilst putting out the fires is often seen as the only priority you need to work on, understanding what the new version of normal is going to look like can allow you to take back control. If we knew with certainty what is going to happen in the next few months, we would make a lot of money selling the answer and save ourselves many sleepless nights, but we don’t, so we must create scenarios for a range of potential outcomes.

Continually ask yourself:

  • What is the best that could happen?
  • What is the worst that could happen?
  • What is most likely to happen?

The answer will hopefully be somewhere in-between, but by having these plans thought through and continuously updated you will avoid many surprises and have the ability to respond with agility. You will also build consistent thinking between the different functional areas and can fact-check your assumptions as time moves on. For example, if you are currently shut-down and have run-down your inventory of materials, do you know whether the standard lead time will apply to suppliers for your re-start or whether they have to replenish their own inventory pipeline first? And what would indicate that something is changing? This information can feed back to your governance process - tell it what to look out for and it can be your early warning system.

If you don’t yet have a structured, integrated process that helps you identify and manage change, then now is the right time to start to rectify this. To learn more about Integrated Tactical Planning download our free white paper, and register to watch our on-demand webinar, Taking Control During the Coronavirus Crisis.

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