>May is the threshold month for summer. If you are like me, you probably have a lot of plans to get things done during the warmer months of the year. Consider the “5 Phases of Planning” that I offer you in this month’s blog. The “5 phases” are based on the thinking of David Allen who is known as the “Personal Productivity Guru.” Here’s my take on how the “5 Phases” can help you enjoy a productive, satisfying and fully enjoyable summer.
Phase 1 is all about finding your purpose for planning. Simply start by asking yourself, “Why?” If you don’t know why you are doing something, chances are your energy, focus and commitment to the best possible outcome of your labor will be less than what you are truly capable of. No doubt, having a purpose seems like simple common sense, but as one of my mentors Bill Glasser admonishes, “There is nothing common about common sense!” The value of asking yourself why, is that it defines what you believe success will be. It creates the basis upon which you will make decisions; it provides focus for allocation of resources and offers additional options. In the end it is an excellent motivator. By not taking time to reflect on “why,” positions you to embrace a “fire, aim, ready” approach.
Phase 2 is to ask yourself, “What drives you to answer why?” What are your criteria, your standards, measures and values that you hold yourself to? If your principles are challenged or corrupted, it will inevitably become a significant source of stress for you. To help ascertain the challenge and prevent the stress, ask yourself, “How am I behaving—is it in alignment with what I believe? The real value of having a clear focus on principles demands that we hold true to our moral compass. As one expert puts it in perspective, “Having a clear purpose and principles generates a rise to complex and more intelligent behavior. On the other hand, complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.”
Phase 3 require you to have or develop a clear picture of how you want the future to look. If your purpose and principles furnish the important answer to “why,” your vision provides us the all important “what.” That vision should provide you with a snapshot of what might really be the outcome. A sneak preview if you think about it. To give you the outcome preview you need, focus and the “what” will give you that. Creating your vision is a real opportunity to put your imagination to the very best use. Einstein once said “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” I challenge you to vigorously build your imagination.
Phase 4 is defining the essence of “how.” Simply stated, this is the idea phase of “fleshing out” the picture that you created in Phase 3. Roger Von Eck in his book, “Whack in the Side of the Head” quotes a great thinker who says that the best way to have a great idea is to have a lot of ideas. To generate a lot of ideas you might want to try brainstorming. Brainstorming is a non-judgmental approach to idea generation. As ideas pop into your head, jot them down, email them to yourself, text them to yourself, call those ideas into your voicemail. The idea is to generate as many ideas, as you can. I have found that the real beauty of brainstorming is that it is a great tool for initiating additional ideas that are spawned from the initial process. Remember when brainstorming the four cardinal rules: don’t judge, disallow “analysis paralysis” and finally focus on generating an exhaustive list of possibilities.
Phase 5 of the process is organization. If you believe you have uncovered what lies beneath every stone in the process, more than likely you will realize that a kind of natural organization is beginning to occur. It is time to take control and objectively outline the component parts of the plan in relation to the whole. The basic elements of organizing are: 1. Identify what is important, 2. Flesh out the parts by components, priorities, and order. 3. Finally make certain you attend to detail at a level that will satisfy all who are involved.
Action planning is the outcome of all of this work. Like all good strategic thinking, you will know where and what to allocate and even reallocate to jump start your work. Ask yourself if you truly believe that you are ready to move forward? Do you have the same level of energy or more? Now that you have completed the process, do you believe you have all the information you need to move forward? If you can’t answer yes to all these questions perhaps you have to dig deeper into the issue. Assuming that you did answer yes to all the questions, it is time for the rubber to hit the road.
This blog is an overview of the planning process. If you desire more information or have questions don’t hesitate to contact me at your convenience. Have a great month of May!