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Real-time planning

Definition: a plan that retains fluidity to your planning process to ensure your plans are malleable to the circumstances. The real-time model is effectively a ‘casual’ version of the vision-based model. This model is notable for its lack of structure and, some may even argue, its lack of a model, which is a fairly odd way to start an explanation of a planning model when we have already discussed the importance of structure.

The reason this was developed, however, is because the modern world changes at pace and so building a formalized five-year plan is considered by some to be an outdated concept. The world in five years’ time is likely to be very different from now, so how can such a long-term plan still be as relevant as when it was finalized? The real-time model therefore keeps the planning process ‘alive’ as an ongoing piece of work.

It is never formally documented and so evolves continuously. It is reviewed at regular intervals, for example monthly board meetings, and therefore develops alongside real-time issues and developments within and external to the company. The advantage is therefore that your strategy stays highly relevant and can change quickly to meet current insights.

There are, however, two primary disadvantages to this approach and both ultimately come back to the lack of documentation. The first is that there is no document to share with your business. It can be extremely difficult to articulate your strategy to the wider business in this situation and so can create confusion and lack of synergy if your communication is not excellent.

One way to address this is to ensure that the project lead or equivalent for the delivery of your strategy develops and manages an internal communications plan. This could involve e-mails to key stakeholders, steering group meetings, regular update seminars, internal desk drops or even launch events. The extent of this is down to the size and culture of your organization but you should never Planning 71 assume that people will know how the project is progressing – so great communication is essential.

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