No matter what level of leadership you are at in an organization you will be asked at some point to create a plan. This plan will be born out of the organization’s visions and directed towards meeting one or more of your goals. But, how do you accomplish that effectively?
That is a question I get asked a lot. The good news is the process is pretty simple. The bad news is the process takes a lot of focused, dedicated, and intentional work to get to the final answer.
First, let’s discuss the process. It revolves around asking four questions over and over until they can’t be answered anymore. What are those questions?
If you have a clear understanding of the organization’s vision then this one should be easy. The answer to this question should always be some variation of, “Because it moves us towards X goal.” If that isn’t the answer then the real answer is that it isn’t worth doing in the first place. So, your real goal here is to make sure the effort is aligned with the overall vision and goals.
Once you have determined the action is worth taking you need to ask how can you accomplish it? This is the strategy you will use to achieve success. The first time you ask this question the answer will be fairly broad but it will narrow each time you ask it again.
Now that you have identified how you have to ask, “What do we need?” This question is where you identify the resources you have available. If you don’t have them available then you go back to “how?” How do you get the resources?
You always want to give each step its own time component. “When can this piece be accomplished by?” Take the answer and set a date.
Be sure as you are answering these questions you aren’t doing it alone. You must have your team involved along the way. By doing so you get better answers, find better solutions, and you make the plan their plan. You generate buy-in because you generate ownership. That, in and of itself, increases the effectiveness of the plan.
That is it. By repetitively asking these questions until they no longer need to be answered you will have the plan. You created it from the top down with the overall vision and goals at mind and checked that alignment at each step so there are no moral or ethical obligations to worry about. You have identified each incremental step that needs to be taken to achieve success, you have a complete plan.
All that is left now it to execute. But, by knowing the small pieces of the plan and having incremental milestones to celebrate along the way you have even taken the sting out of that a little bit. People love achieving. By not having some obscure plan with no real measurables you have built in points where the team can actually stop and celebrate those achievements and that motivates them to hit the next point.
Now, think of a time when you had to create a plan for your team. What method did you use? How did it work for you? Do you wish you had followed this process instead?
Hit me with your feedback, I look forward to hearing your tips as well.