Kicking and Screaming at the Action Plan

I hate “planning.” which is ironic since  people who know me would raise an eyebrow and tell you I would plan my dreams if I could. I hate planning, but, I know it is necessary to get good results. I had an all day meeting this week and we spent a good two hours talking to define what we were doing. This, the talking and planning, would make most groups nervous. “We’ve only got a day and we’ve spent a couple of hours with no work done.” Why do we often neglect to think of planning as work and rush through. In the meeting this week, once we got the “plan” in place, we were able to churn through and get a remarkable amount of work done with a clear path forward on how to finish the project.

It reminds me of what I’ve done with my new condo. I moved out of my house December and would not get the keys to the condo until February, For two months, I planned colors, style and furniture and assembled a box with paint samples, fabric swatches, rug pieces, floorpans, dimensions  and photos. I had a list of painters, electricians, carpet installers and blind suppliers. I had a budget.  Then there were just a myriad of logistics, temporary stay in hotel, po box for mail, scheduling what would happen when in a logical order (carpet and electrical before paint, movers after paint but before new items, etc. all with the goal to settle into new place as efficiently as possible with the least disruption.

At work, the new job, it’s been 6 weeks and it’s beginning to come together, but I don’t have any visible signs of progress yet. So, today, I’m working on “the box.” Just like I did for the condo and it starts with a list of what I need to do to plan and make things happen.

  1. What is the vision? What is the vision for the team? What does success look like for me.
  2. What is my scope? What do I own and where do I collaborate? Who do I give information to and where do I get information from.
  3. What is the timeline? What has priority? What are the due dates for work in process?

While I can’t show progress for the new job, I can assemble my “work box.” Much like the house box, I can get guidance. With the house box, the color specialist eliminated one color from the pallet and selected the right white for the ceilings and trim. The paint colors informed the rug selection and influenced the colors needed for art work. With a modern theme, the in store designer could steer me towards abstracts. All the pieces started to build and relate to each other. This makes me look forward to my “work box,” and anticipate of results will get me over, the I hate to plan.  And while it has become popular to say, think outside the box, in my case, it is think of what needs to go into the box. Is it possible that those who have to think outside the box, didn’t plan well to begin with?


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