The planning process – or lack of it – is one of the biggest pain points for government leaders and workers who want to be doing the right thing but feel overwhelmed with lots of activity without seeing results. Here are some common complaints:
- There’s a lot of work in progress but nothing ever seems to get done
- Priorities are constantly shifting
- People feel overloaded and over capacity, yet more work is constantly being requested
- Groups work in silos, each with their own priorities
- A lot of work is being done but we can’t measure results
Imagine the impact of creating a new way of planning that engages everyone and leads to a sense of clarity, hope and teamwork. This poster reflects how staff within a division felt after working together to plan for the first of a two-day planning session, using this new approach.
Reflections – Day 1
- Watching the energy change through the day – seeing people get excited
- Noticed – more productive than anticipated
- Hope – the fruits of this work happen and we get things done
- Will give our work more purpose – tying to strategic plan
- Noticing all the work going on and interdependencies
- Excited to see final product and how it comes together
- Planning and seeing how it comes together
- We worked as a team and everyone contributed (not just individuals)
- Hope – truly acknowledge our bandwidth and succeed
- Notice – we got on the same page and worked together
- Really good to see the big picture
- Hope – team members sharing work – more collaborative
- It’s nice to see the pieces in stories – visual, what I can say yes or no to
- I am not alone – everyone is overloaded
- Hope – world peace
- Notice – lots of engagement & excitement
- Able to discuss, share, time
How does it work?
This approach begins with leaders working together to agree on goals and priorities for the upcoming quarter. Rather than establishing separate priorities and then fighting over resources, leaders operate as a team with shared goals. They define these goals in a structured way, first defining objectives and then prioritizing the work they believe will accomplish those objectives. Success is measured through results, rather than the completion of activities.
The objectives, success measures and prioritized work are shared with the teams that will develop plans to accomplish the work. The teams are empowered to figure out how to get the work done and are guided through a process to estimate their capacity and only pull in work that they are confident that they can complete within the quarter.
The team plans are created during a collaborative, two-day planning event that includes the leadership team, everyone who will do the work, as well as customers and stakeholders who can provide feedback on the plan. During the event, teams create visual plans that represent their capacity, the pieces and timing of the work that they expect to complete within the quarter, dependencies and risks. The event concludes with a confidence vote from everyone in the room so that all participants leave with a sense of collective accountability and commitment to the plan.
What makes the difference?
This approach is powerful and effective because it aligns to lean and agile principles and creates a healthy environment with clarity, alignment, focus and trust.
- Creating clear goals, success measures and priorities across the organization
- Trusting teams to figure out how to get the work done
- Working collaboratively with everyone in the same room