Gant, PERT, WBS, Critical Path … technical planning methodologies, all have their use.
This technical side of Planning has recently come in for some flak where it was likened to a ritual rain dance; it has no effect on the weather but those who engage in it think it does. Much of the advice related to planning is directed at improving the dancing not the weather. And we all know people who are technically fantastic planners (and have a piece of paper for every stage) but no fire in their belly to ever get anything done.
So the focus of Planning should be with useable tools, simple and straightforward, to take you from where you are to where you want to be…combined with your will to get you there.
Why Plan and set Goals in the first place?
Well this is kind of answered by defining Planning.
PLANNING = TO DO SOMETHING BY INTENTION
Do you intend to:
- Sell your products • Serve your Internal & External Customers • Design your Products • Manufacture your Products • Deliver your Products or Services • Telephone Clients/Suppliers • Meet Clients/Suppliers
So what Plans do you have to fulfill all of the above ? Or do you just “wing it”? All our activities require some sort of preparation, some kind of series of events.
If you are prepared to prepare, you will immediately set yourself apart from the crowd who are at the mercy of whatever … influential / persuasive / overwhelming / stronger … forces prevail at the time. Who are like an empty crisp packet in the wind. Going this way and that. Maybe getting somewhere – maybe not.
It is far easier to get obsessed with solving problems … getting on with the TASK … where activity wins. If you are seen not to be doing something then you’re not being productive, “you ain’t working”.
What’s the Plan?
Well, you’re busy alright. A busy fool. Activity wins over Accomplishment.
It’s called the Human Gerbil syndrome; keeping doing stuff and thinking that by being on the move and expending effort, we are doing some good. Until we realize we have been like a gerbil on a wheel going round and round in circles and getting very, very tired.
Now, being tired is OK. But there is a difference between a GOOD TIRED and a BAD TIRED.
A BAD TIRED is when we have been on that wheel all day long … keeping busy, keeping busy … but not doing anything more than solving problems and taking on some new ones (and tackling the old ones that consistently keep coming round again, because you don’t have the time to plan a solution that deals with the symptoms). And you know it – and each evening and Friday night you’re tired and mentally, you’re down.
Compare that with a GOOD TIRED when you have made tangible gains on where you were before. You’ve scored them off before you left the office and you can visibly see you moving toward a worthwhile goal. Setting targets and achieving them. Bringing your team, willingly along with you, enjoying the journey. Developing you, your team, your company.
A GOOD TIRED is in seeing progress toward a pre-determined goal.
The process of creating a plan can reveal much of what an individual does not want the world to see. This is to a Plan’s advantage for a Manager. Using a Plan, a Manager will see that:
- the clarity will reveal misunderstandings • the completeness will remove contradictory assumptions • the rigour of the analysis will expose technical and practical details (which are often glossed over through ignorance or fear) • the agreement forces all concerned to actually read and think about the details
Is your plan going to get mugged? Absolutely. You’re not naïve. But you’ll carry on and refer back to your plan about what to do next once you’ve picked yourself up. If you’re smart, you’ll have thought in advance about what might scupper your plans – and have a plan for them.
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