Updated: Feb 24, 2020
In the words of Dwight D Eisenhower, "Plans are nothing, but planning is everything."
Planning is seldom perfect, but planning using a framework, means that you can put in place a structure that can quickly be adapted for most eventualities.
There are no hard and fast rules for planning, but...
it is important to start
not to be scared
know you can re-shape
and tighten as you move forward
Say it on one page
I like detail, but know from years of experience that the best way to ensure planning is successful is to have a high-level, one page plan, that everyone can understand - from the Chief Exec to the Project Assistant. Everyone needs to know what's in the plan and what part they have to play in it.
If you need more detail, such as a timeline or a deliverables brief, then these can be captured separately and managed and shaped by the team involved in that part of the delivery.
Don't be scared, planning isn't there to catch you out, it's there to help everyone move forward together.
Plan, do, learn, re-shape
Planning is needed for everything:
The next quarter and the year ahead
The Christmas party
Your long anticipated holiday
But, get started, learn what is working and what isn't, re-shape the plan as often as you need to and repeat, repeat, repeat.
The Audit Trail
Some might say that the audit trail is there to protect your position. Really it is there to help us remember why a decision was made, an action taken, a feature requested, a colour chosen, a process drafted. An audit trail can save us time, when we need to reassess what we're doing, as we have the original thinking to hand. It is also the starting point for planning for the next thing we do.
Once the dust has settled it's easy to think "what's next?" But almost as valuable as the initial planning is the review at the end. It can be a cathartic process sitting down as a team and thinking about the background to the project or period covered, the timescales involved, the budget set and any over or under spend, as well as positive and negative feedback.
Learn from mistakes and celebrate good work.
Always round off with agreement on what you would do differently or repeat the next time round.
Planning is one of the key services that I offer, and I am always delighted to sit down with any business to see how I can help.