Success achieved at the level of centers and departments in any organization requires having passion, being creative, and having access to empowerment. It relies on having an operational plan that ensures the delivery of strategic objectives by performing daily tasks.
Organizations often work on 3–5-year strategic plans with a long-term vision. The pitfall here is that many organizations do not focus on developing operational plans. So, what are operational plans?
In a nutshell, an operational plan is a translation of the strategic plan into annual, monthly, and daily courses of action to achieve the strategic objectives. It covers the following elements: Who? What? when? and how? for day-to-day operations throughout the planned year.
An operational plan should answer the following questions:
Operational plans guide the work in any given organization. They are designed to ensure the achievement of the objectives. To develop such plans, we need to take practical and clear steps. Given that an operational plan is a tool for delivering the strategic plan, we must first believe in the strategic plan and make sure everyone understands it.
The second step is to focus on the most important goals. This step helps to avoid any lack of cooperation of the work team. It must be completed before developing the operational plan for the team’s work through setting the annual goals of the strategic plan and identifying the key projects that will help achieve those goals. Afterward, the right performance measures must be identified, especially the key performance indicators (KPIs).
It is necessary to forecast the future with KPIs to ensure the success of the operational plan that we are working on. Our KPIs should show us what can be expected in the future and allow us to adjust the path accordingly.
Bearing in mind that KPIs have a significant impact on the work team, they should not be developed without considering the work team. Therefore, it is necessary to rely on the different views of the team during their development to reach a decision that represents diversity within the concerned team.
The last step in the process of developing operational plans is the issue of communication. I call it an ‘issue’ due to its great importance for the team to believe in this plan and its steps, and thus interact with it at the level that achieves its goals. According to studies, communication represents 90% of the time spent by project managers during their work on their projects. Everyone must understand why you, as a manager, chose such measures, why they are important, how they will help the organization achieve its goals, and what role each team member will play to succeed in achieving the goals of the operational plan.
In addition to what I mentioned in the beginning ‘passion, creativity, and empowerment,’ flexibility, interaction, and the ability to keep pace and notice everything that is happening around you are your key to success, considering the acceleration witnessed by various business environments. Such skills ensure achieving “best effort, cost-effectiveness, and minimum time.”
In conclusion, what we need today is to be able to overcome the status quo bias and get out of the comfort zone, that is, to get rid of the desire that keeps us in a state of preference for the continuity of things as they are. Overcoming that state requires your openness to various experiences and ideas, in addition to staying up-to-date on everything new. Be like a dragonfly, not like a flatfish.