My boss keeps doing my job

02 Jan 2024


The disruption caused by Covid-19 forced many organizations to adopt good behaviours in order to survive. These included focusing on taking control of the short term, tightening inventory policy, planning for uncertainty with ‘what if’ scenarios and robust contingency planning, and driving greater collaboration with suppliers and customers.

It also drove some poor behaviours. One example of this was during a respite from Covid-19 lockdowns, when we were working with a client to undertake a diagnostic assessment of their planning processes. We were speaking with two lead-team members and their eyes lit up when we asked them how they were coping with Covid-19 and the lockdowns. The CFO said, “We have had so much fun; we have been meeting every day, sometimes twice a day, continually calling suppliers about materials and continually collaborating with customers about deliveries.” The COO chimed in and said, “I have been on the factory floor just about every day, organising the production schedule and chasing up material shortages, and we have not really missed a beat… yep, we have been right in the thick of it!”

Having worked with Oliver Wight long enough to understand our approach, they saw our next question coming, and pre-empted it, “We know that we should have trusted our Integrated Tactical Planning process to take care of it, but it was just an “all-hands-on-deck” situation and we did not stop to think about how it should be done properly – we just put our heads down and did it.”

Our next question started to bite, “You were working on your three-year strategy last time we spoke, where is that at right now?” The answer? “Nowhere.”

The final question bit even harder but had to be asked, “How do you think your planners and the key people in the tactical horizon feel right now?” Their answer was that they had not thought about them and they did not know.

What the CFO and COO did was well meaning, but it eroded trust in the process and meant that those in key roles just sat back and waited for instructions, rather than doing what they were meant to do, pro-actively re-optimise the 13-week plan each week, to account for material changes in plans… oh, and to pull the trigger on pre-authorised contingency plans, that should be coming out of the Integrated Business Planning process, but in this case, were not. With no preparation for uncertainty, it is no wonder members of the lead team felt compelled to dive in and take control.

All decisions cost the business something – money, people’s time, distraction, expediting, and much more. In this case, it cost our client at least six months of strategy development at a time when it was most in need of more focus, as well as the cost of eroding confidence and trust from the key people appointed to manage such changes.

A psychologist once commented on managing and responding to personal challenges, “You better practice these techniques in the good times, because as sure as anything, you are going to need them, and need to be good at them, when the bad times come… and they will!”

The moral of the story is, companies need to work on their Integrated Tactical Planning process all the time, especially in the good times, so they can be great at it when the bad times come… and they will!

To find out more, download our free white paper, or, for more in-depth knowledge, get a copy of our Integrated Tactical Planning book.

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