How to Move From Planning to Doing

January 22nd 2014

In my last post, I wrote that planning and doing are two different things. My post turned out to be timely, as I just recently reviewed a strategic plan for one of my clients. That plan reflected everything that’s right about a plan and everything that’s useless.

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The review part of the plan was terrific: lots of information about where and who we are, a thorough SWOT analysis, some description of what they would like to see happen. I could imagine my client and her employees sitting around the conference room, bonding, visioning, sharing thoughts and ideas. That’s the easy part, and that’s where they stopped.

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Here are four things you really must include in a plan to turn it into reality.

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Specifics:  “Increase our marketing in the construction sector ” is vague. “Increase our revenue in construction by 10% by the end of the fiscal year” is getting closer. Then, if you include the specific steps you will take to make that happen, you are on the right path.

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Deadlines: Know when you want to start and end each part of a plan. Otherwise, another year will pass and, with it, the opportunities.

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Responsible individuals: Assigning specifics to “the whole team” or “the partners” is the surest way to inaction. 

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Rewards and Consequences: Rewards are easy. How will individuals and the firm celebrate reaching a goal? Consequences are tougher. At a minimum, have a discussion in advance about how individuals will be held to account if they do not fulfill their part of the plan. I realize this is perilously close to a disincentive, but it also assigns a level of seriousness to the effort that otherwise may not exist.

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Getting your team together and asking them to think beyond the day-to-day is valuable all by itself. But if you’re spending the time, money, and energy to do that, you owe it to yourselves to create something valuable. A practical plan of action is certainly one of those things.

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planning, leadership and management, professional development

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