Making plans work
Personally, planning falls between having my teeth drilled and car trouble. Life is too short to spend it planning. When I think back on leadership meetings I’ve attended or led, there was abundant talking and planning but scarce action. Many of the things discussed sounded great but never happened.
The problem isn’t planning.
The problem is we aren’t planning to act. Pages of graphs, colorful organizational charts, and clear cut descriptions and objectives don’t DO anything.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney
Leaders move from ineffective plans to effective action with five simple words.
Who does what by when?
Making plans makes us feel like we’re actually doing something. Sitting in meetings and discussing plans gives the sense of getting something done but nothing could be further from the truth.
NOTHING happens in meetings!
EVERYTHING happens after meetings.
The only plan that matters is the plan that’s put into action. Everything else is a colossal waste of time. Start asking, “Who does what by when?” Until we have clear cut answers to that question, everything is smoke and mirrors inflating pride but destroying progress.
I think that there are at least 2 factors that play into planning without action:
1. Fear of failure: When you are in the planning stages everyone wants their plans to be right, THE FIRST TIME, which gives the planning committee very little room for error, NONE! Leaders want their plans to be perfect, so when failure arises, they tend to pack up and go home forgetting about the entire idea or vision they once had.
For example, I had a wonderful idea that would involve myself and a friend of mine going to the mall or another outlet and share the Gospel with people. Oh it was a fantastic idea and the vision was there but the fear was there as well. As soon as fear started to creep, our plans did as well. Fear can be so controlling it is sickening.
2. Laziness: Like the point in your message, “The problem isn’t planning. The problem is we aren’t planning to act.” I I think that part of that is we all want to have nice comforting meetings with plans of promise for the future filled with productivity, innovation, and profit; however at the same time we seem to want everything to happen immediately without having to do all the work ourselves.
For example, I wanted to start getting up at around 5:00AM every morning so that I could have a devotional and get some other work done before my day started. What ended up happening? My alarm would ring and I would hit the “Dismiss” button and wouldn’t get up until 7 or 7:30AM for work. I did finally fulfill my goal by getting my butt up this morning to post this ;).
Actions speak louder than words is a big cliche but it rings true, EVERY TIME.
Great addition to making plans that work. On getting up early… You might try going to bed early 😉
Amen Brother Dan, Another by line might be procrastination
bill, I’ve been putting off procrastination.. 🙂
Well written, Dan. This not only rings true personally but also in an organizational sense. Personally, there are things that I’ve made plans for that have not changed. Organizationally, I’m teaching classes and seminars that are good, but ultimately have not changed much. The reason? “Knowing and not doing are equal to not knowing at all.” (written on my fortune cookie several years back)
Hey Adam, thanks for the quote … knowing and not doing are equal to not knowing at all…. Gotta love fortune cookies.
I am against impromptu meetings, or meetings where the agenda is not clear to everyone BEFORE the meeting day, or where there is no follow up as to whether what was planned actually takes place.
Thanks for adding your insights and perspective to the conversation. Cheers, Dan
I have read the comments and they were very helpful.
Last week we had a meeting to understand why our daily Huddle meetings are not making any impact on our everyday productivity. We identified the following causes:
1. We spoke a lot every day in the meeting, but once outside the meeting room, we got back to our normal selves doing what we used to do.
2. There were no action items identified and no ownership assigned to those items.
3. Team looked very loosely focused about whats going on in the meeting.
4. In the meeting, it was only one way communication and no discussion or debate.
5. The agenda was very monotonous (reviewing where we stand compared to yesterday)
Now, having read this article and all the comments I clearly understand that we very badly need to focus on the 5 words….”Who does what by when? ”
Thanks a ton for this article, Dan!
Daily huddle are not meetings. They are just check ins. They are designed to handle situational issues related to actions. They are for follow ups and used to get early red flags for corrective actions. No problem solving allowed.