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When Having Too Many Options Becomes Confusing: Use The Planning Cell Approach

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Lean Standard Work: The Standard Pig Game (26-slide PowerPoint presentation). The Standard Pig Game is a creative approach to learning that aims to demonstrate the value of standard work in creating stable and repeatable processes to maximize performance and minimize waste. The game can be played in a classroom or workshop setting and requires only basic equipment, such [read more]

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In today’s business environment, management consulting firms must be ready to address client challenges and needs that will transform their business by 10 or 100 times.  Tools and methods must be scaled up to ensure applicability to the widest possible audience globally.

The Consulting Workshop Series provides a good understanding of the 10 Methods of conducting Workshops that are custom designed to fit specific workshop objectives.  Different methods are developed for the purpose of providing organizations the most appropriate tool necessary to support organizations in their Strategic Planning to achieve their strategic goals and targets.

If management is faced with a situation in which an urgent problem has to be resolved in a short period of time and when different options pose different benefits and risks, then the Planning Cell is the perfect method to undertake. This is most essential when undertaking business transformation.

When Planning Cell is Most Effective

The primary strength of the Planning Cell Approach is it allows participants to better learn about and choose between multiple options regarding an urgent and important issue.  Having too many options can be confusing. Hence, we need to have a tool that can make things easier but effective in studying these options.

The Planning Cell works best in a situation wherein an urgent problem has to be resolved in a short period of time. Yet, with that short period of time, there are just too many different options with each option posing different benefits and risks. This can be confusing.

Since the majority of the participants are selected by a random process, Planning Cell can be used to address even highly controversial issues.

How Planning Cells can be Effectively Conducted

The conduct of the Planning Cell must be done in a systematic manner following a 3-phase approach.

  1. Preparation Phase. This is the critical first step to organizing the Planning Cell and designing its program. It sets the basic groundwork for the conduct of the Planning Cell such as the design program and logistics.  It ensures that the required personnel, advisors, experts, and advocates are recruited and the most important element of the activity is done: the development of the program design.
  1. Conducting the Planning Cells. The second phase is the main core of the event. This is where participants get to learn about and choose between multiple options regarding an urgent and important issue.  The schedule of the Planning Cells is often organized into multiple work units with each work unit comprising 3 major components or phases.
  1. Final Report Production and Dissemination. The final phase, this is the concluding part of the Planning Cell where results are summarized. The primary objective of the final phase is to ensure proper recording, documentation, and dissemination of the results of the Planning Cell. The final phase makes sure that the entire process is transparent and comprehensible.

The PLUS Factors of a Planning Cell

The Planning Cell as a participatory method has its advantages.  First, due to the random selection of the participants, the acceptance of the results increases. Second, the results of the Planning Cell are completely open. Advisors can develop their own solutions and recommendations based on their experience in the Planning Cell process.

Most of all, the recommendations of the advisors can promote action in, and protect the interest of the general body.  Planning Cell is a great opportunity to learn about the interest of others and make a more intelligent and informed decision out of multiple options.

Interested in gaining more understanding of the Planning Cell workshop technique? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about the Consulting Workshop Series: Planning Cell here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Joseph Robinson

Joseph Robinson is the Vice President of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is the marketplace for best practices in business management. Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. The documents at Flevy (https://flevy.com) are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with 20+ years of experience. Flevy covers 200+ management topics, ranging from Digital Transformation to Growth Strategy to Lean Management. You can peruse a full list of management topics available on Flevy here. Prior to Flevy, Joseph worked as an Associate at BCG and holds an MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. You can connect with Joseph on LinkedIn here.

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