Real-time planning: Test constantly, learn fast

Martin Bailie
glue isobar

Martin Bailie of glue isobar outlines a system for real-time planning involving creating scenarios, then learning and testing in a speedy, responsive mode to refine the outcome.

Planning is just guessing. We have hunches. We need to test them. No-one really knows. You solve impossible problems through trial and error.

Most initiatives fail eventually. Change makes them fail. Those organisations that exceed expectations know how to change in order to survive. The Lean Start-Up movement, popularised by Eric Ries, calls these changes 'pivots'; shifting direction in response to a new learning; a new normal.

Approaches that plan around 'feedback loops', 'journeys' and 'just in time' decision-making are better placed to deliver outcomes that help us learn swiftly. McKinsey suggests “fixed annual planning and budget processes are antithetical to timely strategy setting and decision-making.” So, several businesses have been balancing new monthly (not quarterly) budget reviews with their vision-based three to five-year planning. This allows for a clear long-term direction, with short-term 'pivots'. Vision remains intact, but tactics move in response to opportunity.