“It is less important […] to produce perfect plans than to use planning to force managers to think about their assumptions and thereby accelerate learning as a whole.” – Peter M. Senge
While the process of planning often is delegated to individuals, this neglects the power of collaborative planning. It rather makes sense to foster collaborative planning as it accelerates learning in the organization. Here is an exercise worth following:
For your next major task, start creating a new plan as skeletons. Share it and discuss it with your teammates and managers first. The structures and topics will make your teammates and managers share their views. This will help to embrace their mental models.
Do not worry about loose ends on the first run. You will learn about importance and priorities from the response to them. Some might be even neglected, others will create a lot of agitation. Discussions will help to learn if these are planning topics or a matter of adjusting mental models.
Managers may ask for assistance or will be forced to make assumptions on the procedures. Whenever there is something that does not fit into their mental model be sure they will raise it. Again this will add to the learning on expectations and obligations.
In the same way you will be forced to validate your assumptions and mental models. Make use of it to learn where you have to change your mind or rethink your position.
A synchronization of mental models will be the results. It is to be seen as the step into collaborative learning. Status can be seen as it is. Visions are becoming more clear. Actions become more meaningful and learning loops can be closed more easily. The organization as such will benefit from collaborative planning.
All of this will only works if your make this a process of planning. The plan as such is a result and will only allow reviews and change requests anymore. It will not reveal the mental models. Celebrate planning, not the plans.
The cite above is from a book from Peter M. Senge, which is a Must Read – The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization