Having a Plan

messy desk

People close to me have labeled me as a little sporadic. I am always ready to move on to the next thing throwing one idea to the side for something that sounds more interesting. My life moved to the beat of my drum on a whim. I have never been a planner. My wife is not fond of this whimsy, as she is a thorough planner. Vacations are the worst, as I never want to plan a thing other than go and figure it out when we get there.

Having a plan would restrict me from chasing the next exciting thing. It feels like a task list I would have to complete to succeed. I do not want to feel like that about something I care for deeply. Especially with my own time exploring some areas of the globe.

There is a darker side to not having a plan. We often would find ourselves with little to do or direction to go. We would be wandering around aimlessly with complaints of hunger or boredom.

Not only does this apply to exploring, but it also applies to everyday life. Without a plan, the team can look around aimlessly for the next valuable activity. When no activity was apparent, the group found something interesting to them. But it may only be beneficial to some. Many teams I have been with experienced this at some point in time. But what can we do to change the pattern?

The first step is to get the whole team on board with a plan. Each team member has to understand this is our plan, not someone else's plan for us. Meaning the individuals have to be empowered to influence the agenda. We do not start with a year of work to lay out in front of the team. The team is bright. They only need some of the details of each activity, not everything. The plan has to exist in written form that everyone can see at any time.

Next, the team must know that anything can change at a moment's notice by internal and external factors. These changes need to be communicated as the order of operations changes, not weeks later as the execution is starting.

Finally, the team needs to execute on the plan. At this stage, there will be challenges. There are many impediments between a team and a perfectly executed plan. The team will find gaps in the plan. When they do, the group will have to decide what action to take, modify the plan or schedule a resolution for a later date. No one person should make these decisions alone. As the team is executing, they should take time to extend the plan. They are drawing the ideal future for the team to succeed. They are communicating it to the stakeholders, making progress, and showing it.

No plan leads to spinning in circles, no progress, and nothing to show for the time spent. Making a plan draws a road to follow for all parties.