Book Review: The Organizational Master Plan Handbook

The Organizational Master Plan HandbookIf you are like thousands of other CIO’s and IT leaders who struggle with strategic or operational planning then The Organizational Master Plan Handbook: A Catalyst for Performance Planning and Results is a book you’ll want to read.  Written by James Harrington and Frank Voehl, The Organizational Master Plan Handbook is another very practical resource in the CRC Press management handbook collection.

It was also a very smooth read with lots of easily digestible sections and I have no reservations recommending it for your summer reading list.

The authors demonstrate a solid understanding of the problem most leaders have with planning by starting the book with a chapter dedicated to the problems of creating an organizational master plan. Although their diagnosis of the problems hits the nail squarely on the head, I wasn’t made uncomfortable reading about the mistakes I had made myself. In many ways their presentation offered some comfort from knowing their message would apply to me and that I wasn’t the only one with some confusion in strategic planning.

I captured some key ideas from the early sections of the book on the purpose of strategic planning versus operational planning, the attributes of successful plans, why plans fail, and several techniques for planning. Two kernels of wisdom stood out the most in the chapter on effective planning:

  • Planning is about creating changes, versus reacting to them
  • When planning, focus on making decisions not producing descriptions

Perhaps the most valuable chapters of the book then followed which describe the organizational master plan. These chapters compare and contrast the organizational master plan with its component parts of business planning, strategic business planning, strategic improvement planning, and operational planning.

I was surprised to find that I embraced having so many elements of the organizational master plan given most of use stick to just strategic planning and maybe operational planning for our functional areas.

This is the real meat of the book that is filled with easy to understand explanations and illustrations. But the real value is in the step by step explanations of how to prepare the various plans, what the end result should look like, how it should be used, and what the thought processes should be along the way. There are also a lot of visuals supporting the explanations as well some very useful templates, charts and suggested techniques.

I imagine though most people have never encountered an organizational master plan or if they did it was called something else. In higher education the use of integrated planning could produce an organizational master plan as long as it addressed the strategic planning and operational planning sides in addition to the business planning elements.

For CIO’s who struggle with the differences between strategic planning and operational planning you should find The Organizational Master Plan Handbook: A Catalyst for Performance Planning and Results particularly useful because it provides credible guidance aimed at helping you ask the right questions for each type of plan so that you hopefully get the right answers. Although the book does not discuss IT strategic planning specifically, you won’t have any trouble applying things to IT.

The other good news for CIO’s looking to strengthen your business orientation and the IT value proposition, you will find the details on business planning and strategic business planning to be very useful.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention The Organizational Master Plan Handbook regularly ties back to avoiding the problems with organizational planning. That includes advice on executing your plans, communicating the plan and your progress, and maintaining the plan current. The maintenance advice includes a process for change management of organizational plans that are less dynamic and how to maintain an operational plan using a rolling operational planning cycle.

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2 Responses to Book Review: The Organizational Master Plan Handbook

  1. Perrez says:

    I truly enjoyed reading it. Waiting for some more great stuff like this from you in the coming days.

  2. The Higher Ed CIO says:

    I am glad you liked it too.

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