Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Work the Plan

As leaders, we tend to focus on creating great plans that in our estimation will yield great results.  So why do so many leaders become frustrated when our best laid plans yield worse results.  The answer is simple, execution.

As an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to take a religion class.  As a project for this class, I had to attend religious services at a variety of churches.  In one such setting, the Pastor gave a sermon that 20+ years later still has a positive message with me.  The message of the sermon was to not just plan the work, but work the plan.  What a novel idea.  I translated this to the work I was doing at the time and decided it was not about the creation of the plan itself, but more about the execution of the plan.

In sports, teams will go into a game with a game plan.  While fans may be upset about with the officials, the leaders always talk about execution of the plan.  If athletes don't execute, they let the team down and ultimately the team loses the game.  It wasn't the plan that was flawed, it was working of the plan that was flawed.

I worked for a Manager who once told me that I needed to remember the 6P's and an R.  I inquired what he was referring to.  He informed me that it simply meant, "piss poor planning produces piss poor results".  Again, it all goes back to planning and organization.

As leaders, we are expected to do be all, do all, and produce all, with less.  We don't have all the answers, even though frequently our ego's tell us that we do.  Prior to creating a plan, why not ask more questions about execution.  Challenge people to shoot holes in the plan before the plan is finalized.  Once a decision has been made, stay the course.  Don't just plan the work, but work the plan.

Being an effective leader includes creating an effective vision.  Teams need to understand what the goal is.  In sports, the goal is to win the game, win a conference, win a championship.  Chunk down those goals into smaller more achievable milestones and allow for course changes based upon the evaluation of new information.  Include those milestone evaluations into the creation of the plan and continue to ask those self reflective questions to ensure your plan is being executed correctly and that the team is still on board with the vision.

It's not about getting to the destination, its about the journey and the experience learned along the road.  Remember, don't just plan the work, but work the plan.

Plan for tomorrow.  Execute today.  Evaluate progress frequently.

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