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PLANNING – Productivity’s Friend or Foe? (Productivity Series, 2012 )

I believe wholeheartedly in planning ahead, specifically to buy myself time and options if things don’t go according to plan…but, even I know that too much planning can hit you in the face like a bouncing ball you’re not quick enough to catch on its way back up…

There are “perils to planning” – in project management, employee management and in life. In other words, planning has its place, but you need to recognize when it becomes out of place and a detriment to your overall goals.

  • Inflexible Planning – An immovable plan, while admirable, is truthfully rather unrealistic. A plan is only as good as its ability to adapt to change at the frequency and speed needed. In project management, that’s known as “agility”, and an entire new subset of project management methodology called “Agile Project Management” has been born to support this perspective. In the world of Agile PM, deliverables are submitted in stages according to weeks (rather than months) so they can be re-assessed at every iterative phase. And while Agile PM has found its home most comfortably in new product and technology implementations, it can be said that for any new systemic or team change, the deliverables and desired outcomes deserve to be re-visited in a timely and frequent manner. We might think this takes more time or slows down the process, but in reality, periodic check-ins help refine the process and result in fewer big issues in the long run.
  • Planning for Accountability – I don’t know anyone who enjoys team meetings; reviewing, rehashing, venting or whatever goes on in the board room – is a waste of everyone’s time unless a plan is put into place to hold everyone accountable for the details in the discussion. As a PM, I would often dread these types of meetings because I would either leave confused and robbed of two hours of my work day or exhausted at the thought of all the new work I had just been assigned. Today, as both a PM and having managed teams comprised of disparate members, I see how necessary planning is to ensure clarity among roles, responsibilities and ownership. So, plans have their place when they’re used as yardsticks to identify responsible parties and measure performance. However, it is incumbent on the person issuing the plan to check in with resources responsible for carrying it out to ensure that all is indeed “going according to plan.”

Effective planning is productivity’s best friend when used in moderation as a guideline and not an absolute, tyrannical crutch.

Wishing You Success,
N
atalya

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