Professional Growth

Plan, Organize, Integrate, Motivate & Measure – Part 1

The topic is a valuable statement from the management thought leader Peter F Drucker. This can be looked both from the management parlance as well as from a personal mastery perspective.

Planning

Planning is all about the steps to be taken towards achieving a vision. Vision is future imprint that an organization or a team or an individual visualized as a goal. Thus planning considers the current conditions in which the team operates or the individuals execution capabilities. The planning takes into account different factors. For an organization it considers,

  1. The market in which they operate.
  2. The economic conditions of the market.
  3. The competitors and their competitors.
  4. Their customers.
  5. Forecasts.
  6. Critical contingencies.

When it comes to individuals, the above factors do apply, but within their area of execution. For personal mastery seekers or budding entrepreneurs, the points that needs to be considered are

  1. The capability of the individual.
  2. The subject they are passionate about.
  3. The evolving opportunities and the influencers.
  4. The knowledge bearer.
  5. Their adoption window.
Personal mastery assessment framework

The main purpose of planning is to establish objectives. The goals that needs to be achieved and by when to be achieved. When planning, you would also need to take into consideration, what can be the alternative course of action, incase you face challenges. Planning should also have the steps or the task breakdown at a higher level.

Let’s assume that you would like to start blogging and to reach larger audience. Then you need to plan for the next fortnight, what would be the topic on which you would write the blogs, the frequency in which you would release the blogs and where these blogs fits in, with respect to your overall vision about you. Also, are there any backup blog drafts in place, incase for some reason, you are not able to focus on this blog.

Similarly, in an organization, a team has to plan for their task delivery. Let’s assume as case where in the team has to collect the the feedback from the employees related to CoVID situation. So, the team has to split and own, the following: The employees to be targeted across various departments, the channel in which the survey could be conducted, the time duration during which the survey is being planned, what is the end result the organization is looking from this survey and hence the kind of questions that needs to be framed, how the survey can be launched, if there is some system issues how would we mitigate.

The most important step about planning, is that at every progress stage you have to check, how much it is aligned with respect to the plan, what is needed to be tweaked or re-aligned, when its not aligned towards the original goal. Also, you need to do an impact analysis, What if, I leave halfway of my goal or what if the team fails to deliver.

The planning can be of different types depending upon the stage at which they happen.

Strategic Planning – This happens as an actionable item, once the vision is formulated. Strategic planning generally has long time window, generally from 3 years to 10 yrs. However for individuals, you can consider from anywhere 6 months to 2 years. Strategic planning be it for the organization or the individual can change their course of growth completely. When John F Kennedy announced in 1961, within a decade we will have a man on the moon – This is a vision statement. They were able to land successfully on the moon, as they started to plan for each and every step along with a fall back scenario. Two things that I would like to relate here are

  • JoAnn Morgan, the instrumentation controller in Launch Control at the Kennedy Space Center, recalls that there were 23 critical things that had to occur perfectly for the mission to be successful. That is a strategic plan to achieve a goal.
  • Collins who was part of the crew in the lunar mission, orbiting the moon in the mother ship, clearly know that if something happens to the crew which lands on the moon, ie to Neil Armstrong & Edwin Aldrin, he has to comeback leaving them on the moon. That’s the fallback option if a catastrophe occurs.
The view of Earth from the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Source: –https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/07/apollo-missions-nasa-lunar-moon-landing/

Tactical planningΒ – This for an organization is of intermediate range like one to three years. For personal mastery, it can be considered anywhere between 90 -180days. For example, you would like to publish a book of poems. Then you start writing minimum 2 poems per day for the next 90 to 180 days. That brings you to 180 or 360 poems. Now you have a collection of poems, which you can further be amended and corrected to be launched as a book

Operational planningΒ – This is short form of delivery towards the tactical milestones. In operational planning in an organization, you can generally find the department teams or the project units working on their day to day tasks aligned with the wider goal of half yearly or the annual goals. An individual should refer to this as his or her weekly or day to day tasks. Relating to the same example above, in order to write two poems every day, you need to identify the topics or category in which you would write poems for this week. Say for example the poems in week one relates to nature, week two relates to humanity etc. You are likely to spend everyday 2-3hrs to write couple of poems on this topic. This helps to design and develop steps that is aligned with the larger vision through the strategic and tactical plans.

As this being a 5 part series blog, you can follow up on this topic every thursday.

Personal Excellence, Task delivery

Busyness means that you are not in control of your time

“Don’t be so busy, trying to make a living that you are too busy to make a life”

A simple and powerful quote to speak about being busy. Most of the times, in our day to day life, we get ourselves busy. We wakeup in the morning with the news alerts to office email alerts; then as we get ready to office, we are busy with the calendar alerts to the calls for the day; Once we reach office we are busy with the workload and at the end of the day we try to close all the pending activities, which we eventually procrastinate for tomorrow or few days away. This didn’t include all the activities which would be on priority in your personal life. Those gets pushed towards the weekend. When the weekend happens, we suddenly realize it flew away like anything and we are back into our regular mundane routine.

So, how do we avoid being busy. Busyness in my perspective comes from inability to prioritize your tasks. A simple comparison between being busy and being productive is, as below.

A simple comparison between being busy and being productive.

A quick look into being busy aspect of our day to day life throws us a much needed clarity

  1. Multiplicity – By Multiplicity, I mean working on varied number of things at any point in time. Simple example can be filling the form at office and at the same time, quickly tweeting about a thought; then leaving your desk to grab a coffee.
  2. Haphazard – There is not a proper way in which we work. That is we don’t block the time for a specific activity. We would be typing a contractual document, would have received an email alert; would pause our work on the document and proceed towards replying the email. In the due time a slack message or the teams chat update, we try to give a quick response.
  3. Quantity – The biggest block which we need to break within ourself is the quantity factor. Over the course of time, we start to believe its the number of tasks we completed than the quality of the work. The quantity factor without realization, would push us to accept as many as possible. At the end of the day, it’s not the quantity that counts but the quality.
  4. Scattered Work – With volume of task or work to be completed, we find ourselves as in an election room. The reason I refer to election room, there is work scattered everywhere. Documents lying on the table for review, multiple windows of tabs always opened on the screen, our official as well as our personal to do list keeps on growing everyday; even our workspace at home are scattered with all the files both online as well as offline.
  5. Work in Waves – This reflects two main points. The task closure and delivery of tasks. We can see that, we would be working continuously to complete a task or work when the deadline nears and during that time, we would also focus to pull in other tasks so that we don’t get into the same trap again. Incidentally, what happens in reality is, post the deadline or extension of the deadline we start to procrastinate. Take a break till the next pressure mounts for the same. Break the momentum. This style of working is similar to a wave pattern, with multiple ups and downs. The ups are our pressure points and downs are our procrastination points.
  6. Impulsive – The larger culprit of busyness is being impulsive. Being impulsive in delivery of task not only puts us at stake, even the team at stake. The reason is there is no proper predictability as to which task we might complete and by when; hence any task closure be it personal or official gets into this impulsive behavior depending upon the urgency and personal interest.

Thus, we can understand by this time, that being busy doesn’t add any value. It’s like spiraling water current, that pulls us down forever. The best way is to be productive. We shall look into that as a separate blog.

To conclude, busyness kills all the priorities for not planning properly. Hence, when we are busy, we are not in control of time. Time controls us as per the urgency than priority.

Professional Growth, Task delivery, Teamwork

Effectiveness is more important

Being effective means being able to produce desired result or outcome. In our work, we mostly give higher importance to the knowhow than being effective. A task when it is delivered as per the expectation gives value to the knowhow. Else, it’s just a knowledge on the shelf of the brain. Most of the times, the individual or the team gets carried away because they have an awesome idea. They get immersed in their intelligence towards a subject. They might be the subject matter experts. The team or the individual carries the information necessary towards the task. However, when delivery of the task didn’t bring the desired outcome, how much ever of information, idea or intelligence the team has, it goes futile. At the end of the day, it’s the outcome that speaks. An effective outcome or the desired result, takes you leaps and bound. The individual or the teams’ consistency of being effective is more important that anything.