energizing breakthrough performance

Merging Strategic Planning and Workforce Planning

Author: ; Published: Feb 4, 2010; Category: Strategic Planning, Workforce Planning; Tags: , ; No Comments»

A frequent and appropriate concern in strategic planning is whether the resources needed to fund the plan are available: Is our financial plan adequately supportive of our strategic plan? Another concern is whether the human capital needed to implement the plan will be on-board and ready to go: Stated differently, is our workforce planning aligned with our strategic planning? (The financial plan and the workforce plan should be components of the strategic plan, either in the main body or as annexes).

There’s a push-pull between the development of a strategic plan and available financial and human resources. On the one hand, strategic planning which simply assumes the resource status quo can become constrained and unimaginative, tending to recite the way things are rather than the way things should be. On the other hand, a pie-in-the-sky plan quickly degenerates into a bookshelf ornament, breeding cynicism at best and fear-and-loathing at worst.

Achieving consensus concerning our resource assumptions allows us to create a workable strategic plan—doable by “stretching” ourselves to implement it. But would you want a strategic plan that wasn’t ambitious? You may be lucky and have the financial and human resources needed to create an ideal strategic plan right from the start, but most of us do ambitious strategic planning with the proviso that the plan will need to be adjusted iteratively in view of real financial and human resource constraints. Getting this right is a balancing act: Oddly, we must sometimes put the cart before the horse for a time before we can correctly position the cart after the horse. This process may need to be repeated once or twice until goodness of fit among all plan components has been achieved.

A comprehensive strategic plan aligns strategy with both systems and structure, organized solidly around vision, mission, goals and objectives. Systems refer not only to electronic systems but to defined core processes. Structure refers not only to the organizational configuration of talent, but also to needed capabilities and capacities.  Capabilities are the skill sets and talent competency levels needed to implement the plan and perform the work. Capacities are the required amount of a given capability at relevant levels of mastery, expressed in person-hours or person-years. Correct specification of capabilities and capacities is central to effective workforce planning.

Effective workforce planning answers this pivotal question: If the strategic plan expresses what we intend to accomplish, then what is the mix of present and future talent that will be required to implement the plan and how will this mix be cultivated? Peter Drucker said it best, “Plans are nothing until they degenerate into work.” 

If we are going to have a plan, then we’d best have the talent needed to implement it successfully. Otherwise, a strategic plan without a workforce plan could end up being just a cart without a horse.

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