Oct 3 2013

Book Short: Alignment Well Defined, Part II

Book Short:  Alignment Well Defined, Part II

Getting the Right Things Done:  A Leader’s Guide to Planning and Execution, by Pascal Dennis, is an excellent and extraordinarily practical book to read if you’re trying to create or reengineer your company’s planning, goal setting, and accountability processes. It’s very similar to the framework that we have generally adapted our planning and goals process off of at Return Path for the last few years, Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage (book, post/Part I of this series).  My guess is that we will borrow from this and adapt our process even further for 2014.

The book’s history is in Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing system, and given the Lean meme floating around the land of tech startups these days, my guess is that its concepts will resonate with most of the readers of this blog.  The book’s language — True North and Mother Strategies and A3s and Baby A3s — is a little funky, but the principles of simplicity, having a clear target, building a few major initiatives to drive to the target, linking all the plans, and measuring progress are universal.  The “Plan-Do-Check-Adjust” cycle is smart and one of those things that is, to quote an old friend of mine, “common sense that turns out is not so common.”

One interesting thing that the book touches on a bit is the connection between planning/goals and performance management/reviews.  This is something we’ve done fairly well but somewhat piecemeal over the years that we’re increasingly trying to link together more formally.

All in, this is a good read.  It’s not a great fable like Lencioni’s books or Goldratt’s classic The Goal (reminiscent since its example is a manufacturing company).  But it’s approachable, and it comes with a slew of sample processes and reports that make the theory come to life.  If you’re in plan-to-plan mode, I’d recommend Getting the Right Things Done as well as The Advantage.