Goals: Make A Plan of Action

02/03/2023by dang tin0

Make A Plan of Action

“Thoroughness characterizes all successful men. Genius is the art of taking infinite pains…All great achievement has been characterized by extreme care, infinite painstaking, even to the minutest detail. “ By Elbert Hubbard

Your ability to set goals and make plans for their accomplishment is the “master skill” of success. There is no other skill that will help you more in fulfilling your potential in achieving everything that you are able to accomplish.

All major accomplishments today are “multi-task jobs.” They consist of a series of steps that must be taken in a particular way in order to accomplish a result of any significance. Even something as simple as preparing a dish in the kitchen with a recipe is a multi-task job. Your ability to master the skill of planning and completing multi-task jobs will enable you to accomplish vastly more than the average person and is critical to your success.

The purpose of planning is to enable you to turn your major definite purpose into a planned, multi-task project with specific steps- a beginning, middle and end – with clear deadlines and sub-deadlines. Fortunately, this is a skill that you can learn and master with practice. This skill will make you one of the most effective and influential people in your business or organization, and the more you practice it, the better you will get at it.

Putting Your Plan Together

Fortunately, in the previous chapters you have identified and assembled all the ingredients necessary to create a plan for the achievement of one or more of your goals.

1. You now have a clear vision of your ideal end result, or goal, based on your values. You know what you want and why you want it.

2. You have written out your goals, organized them by priority and selected your major definite purpose.

3. You have created measures and standards to track your progress, you have set both deadlines and sub-deadlines as targets to aim at.

4. You have now identified the key obstacles, difficulties and constraints that stand between you and your goal, and organized them by priority.

5. You have identified the essential knowledge and skills that you will require to achieve your goal.

6. You have organized these competencies by priority and developed a plan to learn what you need to learn to accomplish what you have decided to accomplish.

7. You have identified the people, groups and organizations whose help and cooperation you will require, both inside and outside your business. You have decided on the specific steps you are going to take to earn the support and assistance of these people in achieving your goals.

Throughout this process, you have written and taken notes so that you now possess the raw materials and tools for the creation of a plan of accomplishment.

Now, you are ready to put it all together into a plan of action.

The Planning Process Is Essential

Some time ago, Inc. Magazine reported on a study they had conducted of 50 start-up companies. Half of these companies had spent several months and even more to develop complete business plans before they began operations. The other half of this group had started without detailed business plans and were simply reacting to events as they occurred in the day-to-day operations of the business.

Two to three years later, the researchers went back to determine the levels of success and profitability of these companies. What they found was quite interesting. The companies that had started operations with clear, written business plans, carefully thought through and detailed in every respect, were vastly more successful and profitable than those companies that had started spontaneously and had made things up as they went along.

The companies that had started on “the back of an envelope,” where the founders were “too busy” to sit down and do the detailed work of strategic planning were almost all floundering. Many of them were already bankrupt and had gone out of business.

The Planning Process Was The Key

Here was the most interesting discovery: When they interviewed the business founders, they asked them, “How often do you refer to your strategic plan in the day to day operations of your business?”

In almost every case, the entrepreneurs and executives running the businesses had not looked at the strategic plan since it had been completed some months ago. Once it was done, they put it in a drawer and seldom revisited it until the following year, when they went through the strategic planning process again.

The most important finding was this: The plan itself was seldom referred to, but the process of thinking through the key elements of the business was vital to their success.

Planning Pays Off

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, after the successful invasion of Normandy in World War II, was asked about the detailed planning process that went into the invasion. He said, “The plans were not important, but the planning process was critical.”

It is the exercise of working through and discussing every key element of the business plan that is more important than any other step at the beginning. This is why Alex Mackenzie, the time management expert said, “Action without planning is the cause of every failure.”

An old military axiom says, “No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.” From the first day that you begin actual business operations, the situation will change so rapidly that your plan will become obsolete in many respects within a few days, or even a few hours. But it is the process of planning that is most important. Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems says, “In a start-up business, you have to throw out all assumptions every three weeks.”

The Basis Of All Great Achievements

All successful people work from written plans. The great achievements of mankind, from the building of the Pyramids forward to the great industrial operations of the modern age, were proceeded by and accompanied by detailed plans, carefully designed and thought through from beginning to end – before they began.

In fact, every minute spent in planning saves 10 minutes in execution. Every minute that you spend planning and thinking before you begin will save you time, money and energy in getting the results you desire. This is why it is said that, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Planning Saves Time and Expense

The number one reason for failure is action without planning. People who say that they are too busy to plan in advance must be prepared for unnecessary mistakes, and great losses of time, money and energy.

It is said that every new business start-up is a “race against time.” From the first day, the company founders are scrambling to find a way to make more money than it costs to stay in business. If they figure out the “profit model” and begin generating revenues in excess of costs before the money runs out, the business can turn the corner and succeed. But if the money runs out before they figure out how to make more profits than losses, the company, like a plane in a dive, will crash and burn.

The Formula For Success

There is a six “P” formula for personal and business success: “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.”

There are seven advantages to “Proper Prior Planning:”

First, the planning process forces you to organize your thinking and identify all the key issues that must be dealt with if you are ultimately going to be successful.

Second, thinking through what you must do to accomplish your goals enables you to plan your actions carefully before you begin, thereby saving you enormous costs of time, people and money.

Third, a good plan, thoroughly discussed and evaluated, enables you to identify flaws and errors that could prove fatal to your business later on. It enables you to ask “what if?” questions. For example, “What are the worst possible things that could happen if you were to take a particular course of action?”

You Can’t Get There From Here

In many cases, as the result of careful planning and analysis, the decision makers will realize that it is not possible to achieve a particular goal with the time or resources available, or under the existing circumstances. Sometimes, the very best business deals in your career are the ones that you don’t get into in the first place.

I worked for a wealthy man some years ago who gave me a piece of advance I never forgot. He said, “It is always easier to get into something than it is to get out of it.”

He taught me that the time to do the careful thinking is before you commit resources and people, not afterwards.

Identify The Weaknesses In Advance

The fourth benefit of proper prior planning is that it enables you to identify weaknesses in your plan and make provisions to compensate for those weaknesses. Often, you can identify a “fatal flaw,” that if you were not aware of, would lead to the failure of the enterprise. This is only possible by going through the planning process.

Determine Your Opportunities

Fifth, planning enables you to identify strengths and potential opportunities that you can take advantage of to increase the likelihood of success. Often, you will be unaware of your particular strengths, or the opportunities that exist in the situation, before you go through the planning process.

Focus Your Energies

The sixth benefit of planning is that it enables you to focus your time and money, and concentrate all of your resources on the one or two objectives that you must achieve to make the enterprise successful. In the absence of clear focus and concentration, you will tend to spread your energies over a wide area and end up accomplishing very little.

The seventh benefit of proper planning is that it will inevitably save you hours, weeks and months of confusion, mistakes and losses of both money and energy.

The Vital Discipline

Planning is a discipline and a skill. It is both a habit and a competence. This means that you can learn and them to a high level through repetition and practice. Planning is a skill that you can master, and it is much easier than you might think.

List Every Task and Activity

In its simplest form, a plan is a list of every activity that you will have to engage in, from the beginning to the end, in accomplishing a specific goal or objective. To begin the process of planning, you take a sheet of paper and you make a list of everything that you can think of that you will have to do to achieve your goal.

As you think of new items, add them to the list. Continually revisit your list and revise the items and steps as you get more information. This list becomes your blueprint for the construction of your “dream house,” your ideal goal or result.

Determine Priority and Sequence

The process of planning is for you to now organize your list by priority and sequence. You organize the items on your list by priority by determining which tasks or activities are more important than other tasks or activities. You organize the items from number one, the most important, all the way through to the least important.

You organize your list by sequence, as well. In sequencing, you determine which activities need to be done before or after other activities. Often, one task cannot be accomplished until another task has been completed. Sometimes, the accomplishment of a single task can be the bottleneck or chokepoint in the entire process.

Identify The Limiting Factor

In planning, very often the success of the plan will be determined by the achievement of a particular goal or objective within the plan. It may be the completion of construction on a new office, store or factory. It may be the date of delivery of the first finished product or service. It may be the achievement of a particular level of sales by a specific date. It could be the hiring of a key person for an essential job. The planning process helps you to identify the vital elements of the plan and focus more of your time and attention on the most important tasks and activities that must be accomplished before success is possible.

Expect Failure At First

No plan is perfect the first time it is created. Most plans to accomplish something new will fail over and over again at the beginning. This is to be expected. Your ability to accept feedback and make corrections to your plans of activity is vital to your success. Keep asking, “What’s working?” and “What’s not working?” Be more concerned with what’s right rather than who’s right.

Remember the old saying, “Back to the drawing board!” Whenever you plan doesn’t work, relax, take a deep breath, and revisit your plan.

Focus On the Solution

When you have a problem, resolve to be solution oriented. Expect difficulties as a part of the process and resolve to respond to them effectively. If you are not achieving your goals on schedule, ask, “What is the problem? What else is the problem? What are the solutions? What else is a solution? What can we do now? What is the next step?”

It seems that when you begin work on the achievement of a new goal, you immediately experience setbacks, obstacles, difficulties and temporary failure. This is to be expected. It is normal and natural. It takes tremendous effort to launch something new and make it successful. But this is the price that you have to pay to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself.

Think On Paper

Always think on paper. Be continually making lists and sub-lists of every step in every process. Keep updating and revising your plan, making it better and better, until it is perfect.

Remember, planning is a skill. Because it is a skill, it is completely learnable. Your ability to think, plan, organize and initiate action toward your goal will eventually put you in the top 10% of your field. But it takes time.

One of the ways that you can “think on paper” is to create a project planning sheet for the accomplishment of a multi task goal. In this way, you create a visual image of your goal, and the steps you need to take to achieve it. This can be very helpful in opening your eyes to the strengths and weaknesses of the planning process.

The Project Planning Model

In project planning, you write the days, weeks and months that you think the project will require to complete across the top of the page. If it is a 12-month project, or goal, you write the names of the 12 months, from this month forward. This gives you a time line for the project.

Down the left hand column, you make a list of all the tasks that must be accomplished, in proper sequence, for you to achieve the ultimate goal. What will you need to start or do first? Second? And so on.

In the lower right hand corner, you write clearly what your final, ideal result will look like. The greater clarity you have about your desired goal, the easier it will be for you to reach it.

You can now use horizontal bars to indicate the amount of time necessary, from beginning to end, to complete a particular task. Some of these tasks can done simultaneously and others will have to be done after something else is completed. Certain of these tasks are of high priority and others are of lower priority. But with a project planning sheet, which you can make yourself with a sheet of paper, you can now see your entire goal laid out in front of you with great clarity.

Assemble Your Team

Everyone who is responsible for carrying out a part of the plan should be involved in the planning process. It is quite common to make the mistake of assuming that a particular task can be completed quickly and easily. It is often a shock to find out that something that seems simple and easy is actually going to take several months from beginning to end. A time constraint on a critical part of your plan can force you to revise your plans completely.

One of my managers decided to put out a newsletter to all out customers on a new development in our business. He called our commercial designer and told her he needed it by the end of the week.

He was shocked to discover that a professionally written, designed and produced newsletter would take 6-8 weeks to print and mail, and cost more than $2000. The project was immediately scrapped.

When you start the planning process, your biggest concern should be accuracy in identifying every step necessary, and the exact time required to accomplish every step in the plan. There is a time for optimism and there is a time for realism in making plans and achieving goals. You must be absolutely honest with yourself at every step of the planning process, and never trust to luck, or hope that the laws of nature will be suspended temporarily on your behalf.

Identify The Potential Bottleneck

In the process of planning, there is usually one major problem that must be solved before any other problems can be solved. There is usually one major goal that must be achieved before any of the other goals can be achieved. There is usually one critical element in the plan that must be dealt with before any other part of the plan can be successful.

For example, many companies will start up with every single detail in place except for a professional sales process to bring in revenues. The company will engage in a strategic planning process, rent or lease offices, buy furniture, set up the necessary computers and equipment to produce the product or service, hire the administrative and business staff, set up the books of account and begin advertising. But a first class selling process has not been installed, and within a few months, or even weeks, without sales revenues, the company grinds to a halt. To a large extent, this is what happened to turn the dotcom explosion into a dot-bomb collapse.

Determine the Critical Results

What are the critical results that you must accomplish, at each step of the way, to achieve your final goal? How can you plan them, prioritize them and assure that they are completed on schedule?
What is your plan if things go wrong? What will you do if it takes much longer and costs much more to achieve your critical objectives on your way to the goal? What is your fallback plan? You may have heard the line, “A great life, like a great ship, should never be held by a single hope, or a single rope.”

Planning Is The Key To Success

The good news is that the very act of planning improves and streamlines the entire process of goal achievement. The more often and more carefully you plan before you begin, the better you will get at the planning process overall. The better you get at planning, the more ideas and opportunities you will attract to you to plan and achieve even bigger and better things.

Your ability to decide exactly what you want, write it down, make a plan and then execute that plan is the key to personal effectiveness and high achievement. These are learnable skills that you can master. In no time at all, you can transform your life or business, double your sales or profitability, achieve your goals and fulfill your true potential.

Make A Plan Of Action:

1. Make a list of everything that you can think of that you will have to do to achieve your goal. Leave nothing out.

2. Organize your list by priority; what is the most important task or activity? The second most important? And so on.

3. Organize your list by sequence; what must be done before something else can be done?

4. Determine how much time and money it will take to achieve your goal or complete your task. Do you have the time and resources necessary for success?

5. Revisit and revise your plan regularly, especially when you get new information, or things are not going as you had expected. Be prepared to change if you need to.

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