Shiftwork is the work we all have to do to manage, survive and thrive in the face of a world where Shift Happens.
Shift 2: From Plans To Plans And Planning
We all like to make plans. They make us feel comfortable, they give and sense of direction and underline a sense of purpose. However in a rapidly changing world that is so interconnected that decisions and actions taken by people we’ve never met in a country we’ve never visited can turn our own plans on their head, we need to be continually planning, not relying on a plan. Add to that the forces of globalisation, technological advances, plus social changes and you have recipe for undermining our plans.
Having just one plan can lead to inflexibility and it may leave you stalled when conditions make your plan obsolete. Military General and President Dwight Eisenhower said “In battle plans are useless but planning is indispensable”. In other words learning how to do planning is just as important or more important than the plan itself.
Here are some suggestions to improve your planning skills:
- engage in scenario planning – think of lots of different possible outcomes, no matter how improbable and work out what you’d do in those situations
- Consider for each scenario what would need to happen for me to: quit the plan; stick with the plan; revise the plan
- listen to and be aware of small “insignificant signs” what might they be telling you?
- look at your current plan on a daily basis – is there a better one out there? how can I change it/refine it/finesse it/fine tune it?
- think about what you know you know; what you know you dont know; what you dont know you know and most importantly what you dont know you dont know
- identify emergency resources that you have (skills; attitudes; support; finances)
- make a liferaft plan and mentally equip it with survival items (where I can go for support or shelter – e.g. my family; my friends; my boss; my lawyer etc)
- be open to new information/opportunities/ possibilities
- go beyond probability thinking (considering what will probably happen) and always consider possibility thinking
- devote part of each day to developing new plans
- resist getting into SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities threats) thinking while developing plans – let the plans develop fully before doing this
- adopt a wait and see policy to see what emerges
- ask yourself what else am I missing here
- step into the shoes of your fiercest critic – what would they say about your plans – try your hardest to make their arguments
- consider that other people can have a point
- follow WC Fields dictum – “if at first you dont succeed, try again and then give up, there’s no point being a damn fool about it”
- develop mini plans for the very short term that have little realistic downside and put them into action
- regularly test the boundaries and extremes of your plans – where does it lead you
- implement several plans at once, even if they are contradictory or paradoxical and monitor them
- consider the value of small steps and reducing the timelines for your plans
- consider moving from SMART goals (Specific Measureable Attainable Realistic and Time-based) to fuzzy goals – non specific, not necessarily measurable, not necessarily attainable and not necessarily realistic)
- get connected and listen to feedback (note listen not necessarily automatically acting on it)
What are your tips for developing planning skills as opposed to have a plan?