Failing to plan?

My business partner and I have been working through some management development training ideas for an open course that we are running shortly and one thing we keep coming back to is the need to address and support the lack of planning by managers today.  We are (smug) business owners who actually have put time aside every Thursday evening to sit down together, review the past week and plan for the next. It’s not an onerous task, takes 30 minutes usually, and is often oiled by a wee glass of wine but boy oh boy do we benefit from it.

So do other like-minded business owners fail to plan because they can’t be bothered, they claim to have no time, they do make a plan but never write it down or because they are so focused on the task at hand they forget there are steps and milestones to getting there?

Imagine if you will for a moment treating your summer holiday (Task) in the same manner. You throw a load of random things into a suitcase; you load that into the car and drive off? But is the car the right way to get there? (Systems) Have you your swimsuit, or coat even? (Equipment/Resources) Do you know where you are going? (Direction) or how long it will take? (Timing) Do you need your passport (Instruction), and do you have enough money to get there? (Financials). You’re starting to get the picture now.

You don’t know what you are trying to do, where you are going or how to get there. You got too impatient and just jumped in. Great if you are a thrill seeker and beholden only to yourself; less so if you are a managing director of a company or this is your operations manager we are talking about.

Brian Tracy’s book Eat that Frog – Get more of the important things done today! talks about time management and planning being taking control of a sequence of events. He comments that although it may take a tremendous energy to overcome the initial inertia and get going, it takes far less to keep it going – as I would attest as our weekly planning meetings are habit now and just ‘happen’.

He also has some ‘rules’ to help focus you on the planning:

‒      Think on paper

‒      Resist the temptation to do the small things first

‒      Long term thinking improves short term decisions making

‒      Future intent influences and often determines present actions

‒      Your weakest key result area sets the height  at which you can use all your other skills and abilities

‒      There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do

‒      Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field

‒      You can get your time and your life under control only to the degree to which you discontinue lower value activities

And this is supported by a 7 step process

  • Decide exactly what you want (Task)
  • Write it down (System and/or Instruction)
  • Set a deadline (Timing)
  • Make a list of everything needed to achieve it (Equipment and Resources)
  • Organise that list into a plan (Direction)
  • Take action immediately
  • Resolve to do one thing at least on that plan every day

So you see you have the start of a plan here already! Now I would just like to add one other tool here to help when making your list, and to keep your focus – ABCDE it. Divide the list into the following actions and then act accordingly on them.

A=Must do

B=Should do

C=Nice to do

D=Delegate it

E=Eliminate it

Ensure what you are doing is necessary and beneficial

So you can create an effective planning process to enable you to build a realistic business direction for the future and this in turn will greatly improve your chances of success.

For more help and advice about HR issues or support with your people strategy planning contact us at   or follow us on twitter @3domSolutions


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