Leaders aspiring to be successful in delivering their results through well organised and trained teams need to have a plan. That should be no ordinary plan but one which has a clear structure and depth that will generate results!
Have you ever heard the quote “Failing to plan is planning to fail?” That essentially means if you don’t put a plan in place, you can expect to fail each and every time.
It sounds really simple doesn’t it? So in that case why are so many leaders ill organised and lacking a plan? Why do so many plans fail? Lets face it, planning is critical in all parts of life not only business.
Why Do Plans Fail?
In reality, plans fail often. Just putting a plan on paper isn’t enough. You have to ensure it’s a pathway to success.
Common reasons plans fail include:
- Not dedicating enough time to planning
- Failing to have the right people involved
- The unwillingness to adapt and change
- Not fully committing to the plan
- Ignoring the facts
- Setting unrealistic goals
Those are common reasons for failure, but they’re far from the greatest. The greatest reason is linked to time and accountability. If you don’t allocate enough time to plan in the first place and you don’t have accountability in place, you are already planning to fail.
Now, if time and accountability are correctly placed, you increase the odds to 95 percent. That means success is almost determined. With that in mind, you must take time to generate a well thought out plan which includes accountability.
A well thought out structure is needed for a great plan. That’s why, over time, I have developed and actioned some successful stages – the 3Cs. It’s easy to remember and for me it resonates more with the process, rather than the basic method of ‘plan, do, review’.
So what are the 3Cs and in what order are they used?:
- Stage 1 is about creating the project that you want to deliver. This in short is your strategy and long term goal setting and objectives.
- Stage 2 is constructing, this is set and reviewed daily. Stage 2 is pretty much your daily to do list.
- Stage 3 is about critiquing your project – What’s going well? What isn’t going so well? Critiquing is a daily action, but also a once per week summary. This is key in keeping your project flowing and maintaining focus on the end goal.
Lets explore these 3 in a little more detail below:
The key item of importance here is to dedicate time to do this stage properly. In the create stage you are devising the strategy of your project and setting out key objectives, timelines and accountabilities.
The reason why time is so important in this stage is that you are visualising the whole project from start to finish in your head and on paper. Before you create the final strategic plan on paper its important to give yourself time to brainstorm and think of ideas, in our daily lives we always battle against time so be sure to set plenty aside. This important initial stage creates focus and direction.
When you have created your strategic plan it should outline all the tasks you need to complete in order to deliver your main goal, you should be clear on people that you need to engage and timescales for completion.
The creating part of your plan should include this formula:
Goal = Objectives + Time + Whom
Important to note is that every project must have no more than 1 goal and it should be very specific (e.g, deliver cost savings of 20k in 3 months). The key to making this work is having many well thought out objectives that act as a ladder to your goal.
At this create stage you are also deciding on key stakeholders with whom you might need to engage and gain support from. Whom is written in the formula as it could be more than 1 person that you need help from.
For example, using our imaginary goal of delivering cost savings of 20k your first objective might be to schedule a meeting with all of your management team, your next objective might only be decided from the outcome of the meeting……
Stick to this simple formula and you will be clear and understand what needs to be delivered at each stage of your plan.
This stage is about keeping your project on the straight and narrow. The construction stage should be analysed on a daily basis. This is your daily to do list that will help you achieve your objectives that you thoughtfully set out in the create stage.
You should aim to complete this stage early each day before you start work, this is about allocating actions that will help you deliver project goals and decisions should be made on a daily basis.
Whilst in stage 1 time allocation to think is critical to building a great strategy, at this point frequency and structure is key. It’s really important you have a good daily routine which checks the objectives you set out in stage 1 and allocate them to a particular day and time.
Try not to set more than 10 actions per day – 3 are key to delivering your goal, and 7 remain for what turns up on your notepad during the course of the day.
You will probably have more than 1 project on the go at any time so the likelihood of multiple goals is high. Still limit yourself daily to 3 key actions that will help you deliver a goal and ultimately a project completed.
When actions don’t seem to be delivering the desired outcome people become frustrated and it’s at this stage that people are likely to give up. The importance of the critique stage is to provide a safety net to ensure clarity is given to issues, and to ensure decisions are made in a rational manner.
This like the stage previous is a daily undertaking and one that should be fulfilled at the close of every day. You should be looking at critiquing your project and daily actions by asking the following questions and making notes of your answers:
- What’s gone well today?
- What could have gone better?
- Have my actions today moved me closer to achieving my goal?
- What is the course of action for tomorrow?
If you hit a problem in your project such as the actions are not working or your team is not engaged enough with the goal in mind, then going back to the create stage is vital. This is about completing risk management and understanding where your project is at.
Whilst this stage is very important in keeping your project going I would avoid snappy changes. Complete a weekly critique, at that point then decide if you need to alter your plan. After all if you complete this stage correctly you will have a weeks worth of information to understand.
Planning is critical to success of any project. If you don’t create your project with clear objectives and accountabilities then you’ll fail from day one. It is really hard to keep on track which is why you need to review your construction elements on a daily basis. And remember to critique your work on a daily basis as the last thing you do before you sign off and go home.
A proven method I also use alongside this is the Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo, it really helps manage completion of tasks through a great time management technique.
If you follow my simple 3C method of planning then it will be much harder for you to fail. You will be much more successful and a great role model to your teams and co-workers. Go ahead and try. Remember – be persistent, stick to structure and you wont go wrong.
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Hi! I`m Chris Webb, I live in the South East and started Leaders Retail Consultancy in 2019. Before freelancing, I was a senior retail leader for a number of the UK’s top retailers gaining experience over 23 glorious years. When I am not coaching I enjoy spending time with the family or in the gym.
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