Whether you’re just starting your Lean Six Sigma journey, or you’re in the middle of improving a process, guidance from Experts can help make your efforts easier – and more successful! In this Expert Excerpt, we interview Strategic Planning Expert, Bennett Neiman, who shares key insights to being successful with strategic planning.
Bennett Neiman, PhD is a recognized expert in the fields of Strategic Planning and Human Motivation, and is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Slay the Dragons, Free the Genie: Moving Past Negativity and Resistance to Get Great Results.
What advice do you have for someone that is getting started with strategic planning?
Keep it simple or you’ll be planning to get nothing accomplished!
What are some common mistakes you see people making when conducting strategic planning?
Front-ending all the strategies, tactics and steps such that everyone gets overwhelmed and feels like failures. You must plan for success by front-loading the low hanging fruit and being very realistic about what can be accomplished.
Do you have any pet peeves related to strategic planning?
I hate it when people come back into the first review session to report what they accomplished and instead of saying the truth, which is “nothing” or “very little,” they’ve prepared a 30-slide, PowerPoint presentation reviewing everything that was discussed in all the meetings they had. It’s as if meeting and talking is an okay replacement for keeping your word and accomplishing what you committed to.
Is there anyone that has significantly influenced you over the years?
Mitch Ditkoff at Idea Champions taught me that having fun in corporate meetings, including strategic planning sessions, is not only okay, it makes everything and everybody more creative, motivated and effective.
Why do you do what you do? (What motivates you?)
I am a hyper-planner in my own life. It’s how I get so much done. I believe in it and I am truly jazzed about it, and that comes through in my trainings and workshops It’s infectious. I love what I do because I can see that I’m really helping people (which is what brings me the most joy.)
What’s something exciting that you’re currently working on?
Yes, two things:
- I started working with Raytheon in 1996 and I was a fixture in their Six Sigma division doing what I can Visionary Team Planning. This turned out to be a perfect process for Black Belts to determine, with their teams, which Six Sigma projects were most worthy of pursuing. I became a household name there and it was a great experience. By 2004 I had trained so many Master Black Belts to do what I do, that they didn’t need me anymore.
Years later, they asked me to run a session in DC. After the session I went out to dinner with a number of Raytheon Black Belts. I met two young, brand new Black Belts and when I told them my name, their jaws dropped. “It can’t be,” one of them said, “You are such a legend, we were certain you would look like Dumbledore!”
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. A Master Black Belt from Raytheon in Dallas called and said that they just received federal funding to launch a new product and it is so important they “want the Master to facilitate the Strategic Planning.” What a thrill!
- On the other end of the spectrum, a well-known family cheese and wine shop in my hometown of Austin, Texas is expanding and has engaged me to design and facilitate their strategic planning and to help make sure it’s well executed. The first job will pay well, but for the cheese and wine shop, I’ll work mainly for all the burrata cheese I can eat.
What’s your favorite application of strategic planning in your personal life (away from work)?
My wife and I use my Personal Visionary Planning Grid for all aspects of our life together: Finances, Health & Fitness, Travel, Family & Friends, Home Improvement (Now that’s a Balanced Scorecard!). We review it once a quarter and re-do it once a year.