Steps to Improvement: Plan
Three years ago, I remember standing with my brother in an old wooden barn. Our welly boots were half covered in cow manure as the wind whistled through the missing sides of the building while we gazed up at the roof structure. His wife, Ali, pulled out a large tube and extracted a rolled up A1 sheet detailing the plans for what would become of the barn. Line drawings of the rooms with dimensions and descriptions were compared with muddy sections of the dilapidated structure. The plans were ambitious compared to the current landscape, but over the next three years, various Gantt charts and Excel spreadsheets all helped to bring their new home to life.
Plans help to transform the vision into a reality. It’s obvious when you’re building a home, and the same is important when executing any improvement. We have all heard the quote, “Failing to Plan is planning to fail” but what is important in a really good plan? What will help you achieve success?
In my book, ‘Everyday People, Everyday Leaders’, I explain that there are 6 P’s to strategic planning:
Purpose What is your vision for your organisation? What are the values that underpin it?
Position Where are we now? What is working and what is not?
Proposal What do you want something to look like? Where do you want to be?
Priority What is your priority? What do you need to focus on to get to the destination?
Partners Who can help you get to where you want to be, and what skills do you need?
Plan What steps are needed to get you there?
Any improvement in your organisation has to be driven by the purpose of the organisation. For example, Everyday Leader’s purpose is to empower people, to inspire and equip them. Therefore, any improvement or initiative we introduce needs to fulfil that. It should be like a self-charging hybrid car, in that the vision directs the improvement and the improvement fuels the vision. Any individual improvement also needs a really clear and simple purpose to it.
Our blogs over the last three weeks have highlighted the need for an accurate review. We have already seen that the 4 steps to improvement are
The review is where you get an accurate starting position. What is currently working and what is not? What do we have in place and what do we need? Who have we got on board and who else do we need? In our coaching work, we help people through a GROW process:
• What is your Goal?
• What is the Reality?
• What Options do you have?
• What is the best Way Forward?
Understanding the current reality helps you understand where to start from.
What do you want the end point of your improvement process to look like? Visualising the end product allows you to see what you need to put in place.
When you know your starting point (X), and you know you want an end goal (Z), then what you need to improve (Y) becomes clear… X + Y = Z
Don’t you just love a bit of algebra?!
If you want everyone to work towards the improvement, you need to be clear yourself on what you want it to look like.
There will be some key things that need to be in place at the start. These are your focus and priority. As time moves on, the focus might change, but in each stage you and your team need to know what you are all working on. In our training, we talk to people about the importance of alignment; everyone focusing on the same priority is what helps to shift things.
Who do you need to partner with to make this happen? This could be internal staff or external partners or companies. Whose help do you need to make this happen? Who is responsible for what parts?
The plan then maps all of these things and the simple steps that are to be taken, and by whom. Any good plan will have the who, what, when and how. Who is doing what by when and how are they doing it? Clear costs in terms of money and resources need to mapped. An example is below.
It’s important to also note that what we are doing can determine what type of plan we use. When planning building improvements, a GANTT chart outlines actions for each week in chronological order. This is handy, too, when planning an event in which a series of people are involved. At each step of the process, it is important to ask a simple question: “is it clear?”
Any plan needs to be kept alive, too. This includes regular checks with the plan and holding one another to account on the timescales. If someone misses a deadline, there is collective support to see how you can support them to make it happen as soon as possible. If the plan is being delayed for events beyond your control, you evaluate the changes together to all take ownership of it collectively.
So, there you have it. 4 simple steps over the last 4 weeks.
Take responsibility for the situation. Review what is working well and what needs to improve.
Evaluate what you see, what might be causing the issues and what you can change to get the best result. Plan purposefully with simple steps how to get to where you want to be.
Do let us know how your improvements go!
Can we help you?
Improvement can be hard and having someone to walk alongside to ask the good accountability questions can help to keep things focused and on track. We offer some consultancy help for projects. For example, we have recently been walking alongside a school to help them develop their wellbeing practice. If you would like help reviewing and evaluating how you can improve something, do give us a call. Everyday Leader’s team of coaches can help you effectively work out what needs to be taken responsibility for, review and evaluate what needs to improve and how to plan the improvement. Give us a call if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you and your team.
Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you to do that. If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy, do let us know if we can be of help to you. Contact us now: firstname.lastname@example.org