There’s an old saying about plans – more specifically about the lack of a plan: “Without a plan, any path will get you there.” We wholeheartedly agree with that adage, but acknowledge a flip side that raises a question that many diligent planners confront: How to effectively integrate multiple plans into one comprehensive and cohesive plan that guides your overall operation?
The analogy that comes to mind is the challenge facing airlines with thousands of passengers on any given day, each trying to get to his or her destination. The airline has flight plans for hundreds of aircraft and tries to mesh all of those planes and flights into a fairly seamless plan to get you where you want to go. Most days it works, but not without a lot of coordination.
There are three stumbling blocks that derail effective planning efforts: 1) lack of coordination among stakeholders and contributors, 2) poor scheduling and time management for due diligence and preparing materials, and 3) confused or confusing desired results. These three project killers diminish the quality of the overall plan and undermine the credibility of the planning team.
For golf course and facility leaders, the challenge is considering the information gathered through market analysis, financial evaluation and board input alongside the plans of superintendents and those managing food and beverage, membership and financial operations. And then bringing all the information, insights, recommendations and plans together to support the club’s or facility’s objectives. For managers of each of these functions, the same challenges exist, if only on a smaller scale.
If you’re currently in your planning cycle, and charged with pulling discrete plans and input together so the end product doesn’t feel disjointed, consider these five steps:
1. Sync every plan to the vision.
No matter which area of the club or facility the plan is focused on, it should clearly map to the overall vision – the club or facility’s long-term, forward-looking aspiration, what we like to think of as an organization’s North Star. You should be able to see this in the plan’s objectives and priorities. With multiple workflows, the project leader must maintain an overall understanding of the project and ensure all plans are headed for the same airport, even if they’re taking different runways.
2. Outline specific steps along the way.
Define project milestones, the steps that will help you get there at a predetermined time and those responsible. Schedule regular check-in meetings to make sure all pilots have their planes headed in the same direction. It’s much easier to make mid-course corrections than to wait until all planes have landed and plans submitted.
3. Designate one holding place for project inputs and research.
See that all team members participating in the project planning process have transparent access to information and a full understanding of progress. Lacking a central repository of project information, important pieces of information can be misplaced, overlooked or lost. This also helps projects from getting siloed and managers feeling isolated.
4. Prioritize workflow.
On expansive projects or ones that involve multiple contributors, establish which components are most critical to the overall project plan. This step enables effective planners to allocate time, financial and human resources. Sequential planning guides the team in accomplishing mission-critical tasks and components.
5. Maximize productivity through careful scheduling.
If a golf course superintendent is preparing an agronomic plan, for example, it is important to make sure each assistant and technical expert is scheduled to deliver information in a timely manner. Stagger the timelines, monitor the cross-disciplinary dependencies, and eliminate duplications and redundant production.
Most managers have broad responsibilities and must combine resources to produce comprehensive and workable plans. Developing a disciplined process for research, input and development is the key to successfully landing all of your plans and making sure they support the same vision and goals.