Interactive planning is an approach that calls for actively involving all parties that are affected by the project at hand in the process of developing the steps and procedures that ultimately bring the plan to fruition. With this approach, anyone who is ultimately affected by the plan partners with those who are tasked with developing procedures as well as those who must ultimately carry out those procedures. At its best, interactive planning can make it easier to identify potential issues with certain processes and resolve those issues before the project is ever launched.
The level of participation in an interactive planning approach will involve a wide range of interests. Company owners are likely to participate in some manner, along with managers and supervisors. Employees who ultimately perform the tasks involved with the plan also have input into the development of those processes, often providing insight into issues that might be overlooked otherwise. In some cases, even suppliers or vendors who would be tasked with providing materials or other supplies for the project may be included in certain portions of the overall planning.
One of the chief benefits of interactive planning is the ability to bring together a variety of different perspectives on how the project goals should be pursued. Each participant brings his or her own unique perspective, based on personal experience and educational background. Rather than relying solely on the perspectives brought to the table by managers or owners, the inclusion of rank and file employees helps to broaden the input and increase the chances for success. In like manner, the inclusion of key vendors or suppliers in at least some of the discussions may reveal information that will have a significant impact on the project that is underway. The end result is that as the planning progresses, it is possible to draw on this collective wisdom as a means of identifying potential pitfalls and determine how to avoid or at least contain those issues so that the project is ultimately a success.
The process of interactive planning can be used for both short- and long-term projects. Depending on the scope of individuals who are involved, the diverse planning committee may be a standing part of the company organization, making it possible to create platforms today that help to carry the company into the future. Companies do not have to be large in order to make use of this type of planning process. Even a small company with no more than a dozen employees can effectively use this model, simply by drawing on the experience of people who perform different functions within the organization.