Facilitator Journal | Issue #0190, February 8, 2005 | 7,000 Subscribers..
Often facilitators are called upon to support planning efforts of
one kind or another. In my recent studies, I found a great overview
of the planning process, content, and guidelines to make plans successful.
So this week, I include an adapted version of an article by Dr.
Carter McNamara entitled, "Basic Guidelines for a Successful
Planning Process." I hope you find it useful.
And for a little different perspective on planning, we'll be visiting
with Michael Port this Thursday, February 10th at 1:00 PM
EST to discuss keys to creating remarkable projects.
I found Michael's charisma and novel insights into the "inner"
aspects of creating and managing winning projects very inspiring.
I believe integrating these keys into your work guiding leaders
in project management and planning will add an important dimension
of value and a higher probability of success. See details below.
Red Cross Disaster Relief
Starts February 8th
here for details
30-day Free Trial
articles and growing
overview of project planning essentials.
What is Planning?
Planning is setting
the direction for something -- some system -- and then working to ensure
the system follows that direction. Systems have inputs, processes, outputs
and outcomes defined as follows:
to the system include resources such as raw materials, money, technologies
- A Process
is employed on these inputs to align, move, and carefully coordinate
them to ultimately achieve the goals set for the system.
are tangible results produced by processes in the system, such as products
or services for consumers.
are another kind of result or benefits for consumers, e.g., jobs for
workers, enhanced quality of life for customers, etc.
the "End” in Mind
Whether the system
is an organization, department, business, project, etc., the process of
planning includes planners working backwards through the system. They
start from the results (outcomes and outputs) they prefer and work backwards
through the system to identify the processes needed to produce the results.
Then they identify what inputs (or resources) are needed to carry out
Key Elements of a Plan
The planning process
and the plan itself typically includes the definition of goals, strategies,
objectives, tasks, and resources. Please note that completely accurate
definitions of each of these terms are not essential. It's more important
for planners to have a basic sense for the difference between goals/objectives
(results) and strategies/tasks (methods to achieve the results).
Specific accomplishments--outputs from the system.
or Activities. Methods or processes required to achieve the
goals--processes in the system.)
Specific accomplishments necessary to achieve the goals-- usually "milestones"
along the way when implementing the strategies.
People are assigned various tasks required to implement the plan.
(and Budgets). People, materials, technologies, money, etc., required
to implement the strategies or processes. The costs of these resources
are often depicted in the form of a budget--resources are input to the
Overview of Typical Planning Phases
Whether the system
is an organization, department, business, project, etc., the basic planning
process typically includes the following basic activities.
Overall Singular Purpose ("Mission") or Desired Result from
System. For example, during strategic planning, it's critical
to reference the mission, or overall purpose, of the organization.
- Take Stock
Outside and Inside the System. For example, during strategic
planning, it's important to conduct an environmental scan considering
various driving forces, or major influences, that might effect the organization.
the Situation. For example, during strategic planning, planners
often conduct a "SWOT analysis". SWOT is an acronym for considering
the organization's strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and
threats faced by the organization. During this analysis, planners also
can use a variety of assessments, or methods to "measure"
the health of systems.
Goals. Planners establish a set of goals that build on strengths
to take advantage of opportunities, while building up weaknesses and
warding off threats.
Strategies to Reach Goals. The particular strategies or methods
to reach the goals depend on matters of affordability, practicality,
Objectives. Selected to be timely and indicative of progress
Responsibilities and Time Lines With Each Objective. Responsibilities
are assigned for achieving various goals and objectives complete with
- Write and
Communicate a Plan Document. The above information is organized
and written in a document, which is distributed around the system.
Completion and Celebrate Success. This critical step is often
ignored in lieu of moving on the next problem to solve or goal to pursue.
Skipping this step can cultivate apathy and skepticism -- even cynicism
-- in your organization. Don't skip this step.
to Ensure Successful Planning and Implementation
A common failure in
many kinds of planning is that the plan is never really implemented. Instead,
all focus is on writing a plan document. Too often, the plan sits collecting
dust on a shelf. Therefore, most of the following guidelines help to ensure
that the planning process is carried out completely and is implemented
completely -- or, deviations from the intended plan are recognized and
the Right People in the Planning Process. Get input from everyone
responsible for carrying out parts of the plan
- Write Down
the Planning Information and Communicate it Widely. New managers,
in particular, often forget that others don't know what these managers
know, or others won't completely hear or understand what the manager
wants done. Also, as plans change, it's extremely difficult to remember
who is supposed to be doing what and according to which version of the
- Goals and
Objectives Should Be SMARTER. SMARTER is an acronym, that is,
a word composed by joining letters from different words in a phrase
or set of words. In this case, a SMARTER goal or objective is:
"Write a paper."
"Write a 30-page paper."
If you involve me in setting the goal so I can change my other commitments
or modify the goal, I'm much more likely to accept pursuit of the
The goal won't be useful to me or others if, for example, the goal
is to "Write a 30-page paper in the next 10 seconds."
frame. It'll mean more to others (particularly if they are
planning to help me or guide me to reach the goal) if I specify that
I will write one page a day for 30 days.
I might be more interested in writing a 30-page paper if the topic
of the paper or the way that I write it will extend my capabilities.
I'm more inclined to write the paper if the paper will contribute
to an effort in such a way that I might be rewarded for my effort.
- Build in
Accountability. Regularly Review Who's Doing What and By When?
- Note Deviations
from the Plan and Replan Accordingly. It's OK to deviate from
the plan. It's a set of guidelines not rules. Notice deviations and
adjust the plan accordingly.
Planning Process and the Plan. Regularly collect feedback from
participants. Do they agree with the planning process? If not, what
don't they like and how could it be better?
Planning Process is at Least as Important as Plan Document.
The real treasure of planning is the planning process itself where planners
learn a great deal from ongoing analysis, reflection, discussion, debates
and dialogue around issues and goals in the system. While documents
are important, at least as important is conducting ongoing communications
around them to sensitize people to understanding and following the values
and behaviors suggested.
of the Process Should Be Compatible to Nature of Planners.
A prominent example of this type of potential problem is when planners
don't prefer the "top down" or "bottom up", "linear"
type of planning (for example, going from general to specific along
the process of an environmental scan, SWOT analysis, mission/vision/values,
strategies, timelines, etc.)
Adapted from "Basic
Guidelines for a Successful Planning Process," by Dr. Carter McNamara.
How does this article inform your approach to facilitating planning in the
groups you work with? Is there anything mentioned that struck you in particular?
If so, what action is inspired?
us your comments.
7 Simple Rules For Producing
Keys to facilitating the
design, management, and commitment to projects that
inspire and surpass expectations
Attend this recorded one-hour TeleClass featuring Michael Port,
Author, Speaker, and Trainer
"Just in Time" Learning
future is uncertain therefore we can't determine a result we can only
create circumstances for navigating to a result. The building of a business
is the successful completion of one project after another. Join Michael
Port and Steve
Davis for this pre-recorded, one-hour teleclass where we discuss the following seven
simple rules that will help you create circumstances, for yourself
and for your clients, for navigating to remarkable projects...
How do you facilitate passion for your project?
Who do you want to work with on your next project?
What talents are you ready to showcase?
How do you develop habits of fulfilling commitments?
What do you want to learn as a result of this project?
What do you intend to create through this project?
What is your project's story?
Any questions you have about designing remarkable projects.
Plus Three Free Bonuses!
Managers Need Management Training. Article by Steven Lesser
that explores and distinguishes the skills needed by managers and opposed
to leaders. Directors
and Managers of the future will no longer be able to rely solely on their
technical expertise to show their value. They must be able to provide
more than knowledge. They must be both willing and able to play a variety
of roles within an organization, regularly and effectively.
Guidelines for a Successful Planning Process. Excellent
article by Carter McNamara that includes simple guidelines for creating
effective project plans, including a discussion of key elements of a plan,
an overview of typical planning processes, and guidelines to assure successful
planning and implementation.
3. Overview of Various Strategic Planning
Models. Another article by Carter McNamara that summarizes
the following strategic planning models, Basic, Issue or Goal-Based, Alignment
Model, Scenario Planning, and Organic (Self-Organizing).
to Designing Dynamic Workshops from Scratch
5-day teleclass for facilitators, trainers, and coaches.
Steve Davis and Marion Franklin
Available in Real Audio and CD Formats
Secrets to Designing Dynamic Workshops from Scratch, 5-Day Teleclass
This class covers all the elements of workshop design using a simple,
well-organized, and proven approach. This course, that you can take
from the comfort of your own home or office, is for facilitators,
trainers, coaches, who want to design relevant, engaging, experiential
workshops for groups using a simple, proven formula that's easy
to apply to any workshop topic.
Many thanks for a great experience. I received enough value
before the first class to justify all of my costs – and it
just kept getting better! I am now really looking forward to creating
and delivering my upcoming workshop on retirement success -- can't
honestly say that was true before the workshop. -- Doug Leland,
Executive Coach & Retirement Specialist
here for full details.