I’m driven a little bit nuts right now with planning. Our organization has four-year planning cycles, the second of which is just finishing and the third starting.
I’m not complaining about the process or the need for planning. The first planning cycle was mostly a top-down approach (here’s what we want to do, how can you make it happen?) and has evolved to a bottom-up approach (what do you want to do? We’ll fit it to a set of organization-wide themes).
This has led to top-down planning discussions on a lower level. Our division put forward our plan, and now each department is to develop a plan to meet the division objectives. “But our work is so random, how can we plan?” is the overused excuse.
Our work is not random. There may be many ad hoc requests, but there are at least as many known, regular tasks. If we’re on top of the regular tasks, then there’ll be plenty of time for the ad hoc requests. Also, the ad hoc requests probably follow fairly standard themes: annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, whatever.
I would postulate that once you enumerate all the regular tasks and review all the types of ad hoc requests, a fairly comprehensive plan is obvious.