Tuesday 15 September 2009

7 Good Ways to Better Planning

The importance of good goals and good planning comes up over and over again in Performance Management. You simply cannot perform well if you don’t know what you should be doing, or why you should be doing it. It sounds so obvious, but somehow day to day stuff often gets in the way.

Here are seven good ways to ensure planning gets done, and gets done to a high standard:

  1. Work in a distraction free zone. This is important for any kind of work, but particularly for planning. Some people find classical music helps to really concentrate; personally I like quiet. Planning necessitates ignoring the minutiae and concentrating on what’s really important; what will really make the difference. In order to find those important ideas, you have to give your mind space and time.
  2. Work in multiple time horizons. Ensure you have the long term goals and ambitions right, but also ensure you have planned out what you need to do this week, this month, and this quarter to achieve your goals.
  3. Work through the pain. Planning is difficult and there is always a temptation to do something easier, or something that will give an immediate payback. Stay with it, feel the uncomfortable feelings of not knowing, and work it through until the plan makes sense.
  4. Include numbers. Numbers being dates, estimates, quantities and financials. Unless you can quantify how long something will take, or how much money it will cost or generate, or when it must be done by, it isn’t a plan. It’s an un-thought-through wish list.
  5. Collaborate. Plans that have been done with other people are better plans than those done alone. All plans require other people to make them happen, so include them in the planning process. Ensure that those doing the work are able to contribute. Ambitious plans that require everyone to work together need to have everyone’s input right at the start.
  6. Finish it. Planning is a valuable tool to refine and improve thinking, but it also makes sure you have a roadmap moving forward. Planning that takes so long that it never gets finished, and never gets used, might as well never have been done. Set a time limit, work hard and well, and get a decent plan together that can be used. You can always refine it later.
  7. Enjoy the process. Rather than seeing planning as a drag, enjoy the mind-expanding experience. Planning is a time to see the world as a better place through our actions and our work. What could be more enjoyable than that?

Planning and goal setting is such a fundamental part of achieving anything that it is worth thinking about how to get the environment right to do it better.

What are your top tips to better planning?

If you have enjoyed this article and found it useful, please Stumble or Tweet it and spread the word. Or leave a comment to let me know what you think.


  1. Hi Caroline,
    See I do read your blog even if it is a little late.
    One point about finishing it; I think a plan should evolve and should not really be finished until the project is finished. No mater how much I plan unless there is always some thing that is missed or has changed. I would thin adaptability is important.
    I would also say that even if no one else reads a plan it is not a waist; as the very process of creating the plan increased your knowledge of the problem and its environment etc.


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