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Strategy for Planning II

(July 09, 2004) -- So, in the midst of all of that pressure to perform, how do you go about squeezing the time in for planning? Given heroic eighteen hour days of falling behind to make up for resource shortages, how do you get one very big task added to the work plate? With all that you are trying to do, how can the time for planning be acquired.

First of all, any good management trainer will remind you that you are not paid to accomplish all of the items on your to do list. The company has, more likely than not, given you a set of objectives to work with. At most, this is a dozen or so major accomplishments. Meeting those objectives is the foundation of survival. While the inbound additions to the 'to do list' seem urgent, they are rarely more important than the large accomplishments that are possible.

Half of the reason that a routine planning period is so important is that the 'to do list' inevitably fills up with the wrong stuff. In the heat of the action, it is easy to confuse the trivial pile of crap that seems overwhelmingly urgent with the few critical things that make an enduring difference. The most human thing imaginable is the way that we all lose sight of what is important and end up focusing on the slings and arrows.


Decent planning can only be accomplished when your mind is clear enough to think about the big picture. If you have been running your 'behind' into the ground trying to get everything done, it may take a while to slow down long enough to plan. You must be in the right frame of mind to plan effectively.

And, you must have the right information at your fingertips.

In the days preceding your planning period, collecting information pertinent to the plan is paramount. First, you'll have to determine whether you are doing

  • Personal
  • Departmental
  • Divisional, or
  • Enterprise Level Planning

The process is similar for each arena, the underlying data and objectives are different. The goal of any level of the planning process is to figure out how to anticipate the coming flow of events. By having a clear picture of what is likely to happen, you can budget your most precious resource effectively. All that you really have control of is your time and focus. Planning is useful to the extent that it helps you use those two resources to accomplish things that really matter.

- John Sumser, © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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