As we enter another holiday period it’s time to take stock: of the business (if you have one); our role and contribution within that; our career goals and of course our personal aspirations.
How I approach this has changed over the years. I haven’t always enjoyed creating business plans for previous employers; and I’m all too aware that hours of labouring can result in a document that is approved and then shoved in a bottom drawer – just like appraisal forms!
Often external requirements drive a company’s motivation and energy is directed towards the planning process itself rather than the execution. By the time the plan has been approved no-one has the appetite to use it as a living document.
When at school I used to approach my revision in a similar way. I would design a beautifully crafted study timetable which was totally unrealistic; because I’d left it too late to fit in everything I needed to do. Neither did it allow time for slippage and so by the end of day two or three, I’d already missed a few revision sessions and the timetable was rendered useless.
I’ve noticed that a focus on the ‘task list’ – recording what has to be done – is a common occurrence in business; and much less attention is paid to the implementation. I can appreciate that some of this is the product of changing conditions internally, along with external influences; which can render some elements of the plan null and void.
So what can you do to make the planning process more meaningful and increase the likelihood that you will follow through?
BE CLEAR ABOUT THE END RESULT: Describe it vividly on paper (not just in your mind’s eye) so that you know how to recognise it. Consider what will be happening and how people will be behaving when the outcome is achieved
IDENTIFY THE NEXT STEP: Do this for each project stream and put a timescale on it. This will take away any overwhelm associated with the size of the endeavour
BEHAVE AS IF THE PLAN HAS ALREADY BEEN DELIVERED: This will bring the long-term goal closer to your current reality making the execution more manageable
Whilst the planning process is important – you do need to agree how information is to be captured and the milestones recorded – the motivation to follow-through is the pivotal thing. Without that you’ll spend more time revisiting the plan and little time moving it forward; and where’s the value in that?