Every time an organization commits financial, human or physical resources to a business activity, it is taking a calculated risk that the cost of supplying these resources will provide a significant enough return to justify the initial expenditure. The more that these resources are committed up front, the greater the risk to the organization that the intended outcomes will not yield the level of return that was anticipated if circumstances change. The ideal position for an organization is to undertake a moderate up-front investment in time, money and resources, and then monitor the ongoing return on that investment before additional resources are committed.
Responsive planning is an Agile adaptive management approach that involves breaking down long-term objectives into shorter delivery cycles; and then adjusting ongoing work (and funding) based on the outcomes of each delivery cycle.
The responsive planning approach enables organizations to commit small amounts of resources towards their objectives, monitor the progress of these resources against both internal and external influencing factors, and adjust the ongoing commitment based on the most current information available. This does not eliminate the potential for unforeseen issues to affect the work that is being done, but it minimizes the impact of these issues when they arise.
It is important to note that responsive planning is not just breaking down a big up-front plan into smaller delivery cycles to receive more frequent feedback. It is evolving the plan as you progress, based on that feedback, and regularly reviewing and adjusting the plan to reflect the most current information available.
The productivity resources section provides links to more detailed information on responsive planning and other Agile approaches for increasing your organization’s productivity levels.
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