The word “implications” is rarely mentioned in any discussion on bringing plans to reality but, in my opinion, it is the key word. The current insulation bat fiasco provides a perfect illustration of what happens when planners base their actions on – “what we are going to do” – rather than – “how we are going to do it.”
Let me explain further.
The government sees the need for a series of economic stimulus packages to counter the impact of the GFC. It develops a set of criteria –
- it should be a program that yields quick results;
- it should be one that is labour intensive and so provides employment opportunities;
- it should appeal to a broad cross-section of the community; and
- it should involve discretionary expenditure and have long term benefits.
Based on criteria such as these, the insulation bat subsidy program ticks all the boxes. So Kevin Rudd turns to Peter Garrett and says – “Let’s do it and the sooner the better”. The program is actioned.
In my Wagon Wheel business model, “what we are going to do” is represented by the hub of the wheel.
After attaching the spokes to the hub, a series of key questions are asked that appear to have been overlooked or the answers ignored in the government’s case. Each of these questions begins with the same five words – “What are the implications of …….. on ………?
- “What are the implications of the plan on the supply of insulation bats?”
- “What are the implications of the plan for installers?”
- “What are the implications of the plan on safe-guarding the public against shonky installers?”
The analysis of these implications make up the Wagon Wheel’s wheel rim with each section of the rim connected to the plan – “what we are going to do”. Once the wheel rim has been completed, the two components of the metal band – the Enabling Functions of HR and Finance – can be addressed.
- “Are there sufficient trained installers to cope with the demand”?
- “What monies in the budget need to be set aside for administration of the scheme?”
Developing a plan this way has three key benefits:
- It enables the feasibility of the plan to be tested during the planning stage
- It forces the planners to consider the implications of the plan on the factors required to make it happen
- The Action program is based on “how we are going to do it” rather than “what we are going to do”
Good planning is short on vision and long on detail.
In the case of the government’s insulation initiative, at first sight the problems appear to have been associated with implementation – shoddy workmanship, lack of training, inadequate safeguards etc. But these are the symptoms – not the cause. The cause is in the planning – specifically insufficient time spent considering the implications of the scheme and turning a blind eye to any evidence that might have delayed the scheme’s launch.