- What are the specific measurables/indicators of success for each of your goals?
- What are the “mini-projects” that will contribute to the achievement of each objectives/goals/targets?
- In what sequence must each of these mini-projects be addressed, or can they be addressed simultaneously?
- What actions make up each mini-project, and in what order must these actions be taken?
- What are the timelines, deadlines and due dates?
Then on top of these goals (which are often unique or special projects), we also have our daily responsibilities and tasks: the routine work that must be done as a Marketing Executive or Sales Manager or Divisional Director or CFO. It is useful to also consider these in the context of projects. For example, if the CFO thinks of the generation of the monthly management reports as a project, it becomes possible to create a monthly project plan that ensures that everything that needs to be done in order to deliver the management reports on time takes place as and when it should.
Many of the management guru’s whose work I’ve read or followed over the years advocate treating ones job responsibilities as a series of projects: they each have required outcomes (goals) that are measurable; they each consist of a series of mini-projects which each contribute to the whole; and each mini-project consists of a series of tasks that must be actioned in a particular sequences and according to particular timing. Projectizing every aspect of your job and planning properly using one of the many (free) planning tools available helps you to create a roadmap for the year and makes it possible for you to keep many balls in the air. They ensure that you don’t fall down on follow-up and that you never miss a deadline.
Why do I advocate using a specific planning tools?
- Because the use of these tools “forces” a level of rigour that a blank piece of paper or Excel Spreadsheet will not do – they take you through a process that reduces the risk of leaving out important thinking steps;
- These project tools enable you to update project progress in real time;
- Most of these tools enable your collaborators (your team members or colleagues) to update their own contributions and be reminded of their own responsibilities and deadlines;
- These tools make it possible for you and your team (and even your manager) to have a visual scoreboard or tracker that gives a sense of where you are in real time;
- Modification to the plan is easy because automation takes out much of the donkey-work involved in updating the details on the plan.
- Once again, the rigour that is ensured when you follow the process that the tool takes you through;
- Secondly, you can drive the project because you can see where you are;
- It is possible for you to meet with your team around the scoreboard (physically or virtually) in order to review progress and assess every aspect of the plan;
- Team members and other collaborators can manage themselves using the scoreboard;
- It gives everyone a sense that progress is being made consistently – which is an essential component of real engagement.
This means that your planning activities should be fun:
- Take the team out of the office and away from the phones;
- Do the work in a room that has windows and a view! You are looking into the future. How can you do this when all you can see is four walls?
- Take regular breaks – during those breaks do something energizing (a yoga class; a trust walk; some stretching; a team exercise that makes people laugh). Drinking coffee and eating muffins JUST DOESN’T DO IT;
- If you are planning a really big project, do your planning over time – don’t try and do it in one exhausting hit.
- Your scoreboard should be visually appealing;
- Progress must be acknowledged;
- Obstacles must be addressed and problems solved – quickly and as a team;
- Celebrate successes!
To me, the specific tool you use is not important. What is important is that you use something that follows a thorough process, is easy to revise when things change, can be updated in real time, allows the whole team to collaborate and shows you how you are progressing in real time.