How Japanese Businesses Develop and Implement Management and Action Plans (3)

August 23, 2017 [No.41-2017]

Susumu Kobayashi
Senior Management Consultant
Japan Productivity Center (JPC)


In the previous two issues , I have been explaining the present data analyses of developing management plans in the integrated management consulting and the method for the planning of strategies. This time, I will try to outline the contents of management plans, especially of action plans, which are important in implementing the plans, the way of going ahead with the development and implementation and the goal and effectiveness.

[Contents of management and action plans]

Management plans include as their components (1) basic policies (management strategies) for improved management, (2) business plans, (3) organizational design, (4) personnel and personnel expense plans and (5) business performance plans (income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement) and action plans. Since it takes considerable time and labor to prepare all these, there are also cases where only action plans are prepared (especially in small and medium enterprises and micro enterprises). In those cases, the work of developing the plans will be a simple flow from SWOT analyses over the identification of important managerial issues to be addressed to the preparation of action plans. This means that priority is given to trying to start action plans at the beginning.


Action plans are something which shows concrete improvement measures and the way of going ahead with them by subject (basic policy for improved management). The composition includes (1) subjects, (2) improvement measures, (3) aims and goals, (4) what will be done concretely (by whom, how soon and in what manner), (5) management indicators (indicators, values of the current state and values of the target) and (6) monthly schedules (plans and actual performance). “By whom” means the responsible persons for the improvement measures in question, but it is appropriate to appoint them including young employees. While management plans are medium-term plans of about three years, action plans are developed and implemented in the span of 6-12 months. The goal which should be achieved by these plans is to go ahead steadily with the improvement, turning around the so-called PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Action) cycle. You develop plans and start your action at the beginning, check the results on a regular basis (usually on a monthly basis), think about the causes in cases where you have not gone ahead well with the plans and try them again by solving the problems and changing the way of doing. In action plans, it is most important to implement the progress management based on the way of thinking in PDCA after developing the plans.

[Goal and effectiveness]

The goal of developing and implementing management and action plans results conclusively in the advancement and improvement in the business performance of the enterprise, and as examples of the goal and effectiveness before reaching this final goal, the practice of working from the bottom up, which is unique to Japan, and the human resource development can be taken. The clarification of management visions is a task of management, but they often perform the task by allowing the executives and young employees of the company to participate in the process from present data analyses to the development and implementation of management and action plans and by repeating meetings. By participating in this process, the executives and young employees can learn a lot of things. It also becomes an opportunity to think by themselves about what should be done to make the company better. In addition to the encounters and discoveries in the process of the development and implementation, it also becomes a valuable opportunity to share information. Even among the small and medium enterprises which are small-scale, the number of those enterprises is not small in which the sharing of information and the cooperation between employees are weak. Although there are some cases where the topic deviates a little and results in a detailed talk about the operation at meetings, there are sometimes responses from the participating members that they found this kind of opportunity meaningful because there had been no opportunity so far to share information and have a discussion like this.
By having an opportunity to make a presentation in the company about the management and action plans which were developed, it becomes possible to make known to all management and employees the directions and measures which the company should achieve as a goal and to ferment a sense of unity as an organization. Moreover, by allowing the responsible person for each action item to make a presentation as his or her charge, the commitment of the person deepens and it also becomes a good experience for presentations.

Small and medium enterprises are often those by family management. The founders are often absolute leaders with charisma in the company, whereas there are many cases where the in-house sense of presence of those relatives (mainly the children) cannot be said to be sufficient who are the successors. In cases like this, it is often possible to establish the presence of the successors in the company, by delegating to the successors the collection of the development and implementation of management and action plans.





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