Key ingredients of control:
- Clearly defined outcomes (projects) and the next actions associated with them
- Reminders placed in a trusted system that is reviewed regularly.
^^ = horizontal focus.
Horizontal focus will do in many situations. Sometimes when you need more focus to get a project under control you need vertical focus. (Vertical = scanning the horizon, planning steps of actions)
Vertical planning can come under a relaxed environment or a more formal and structured one. Most of the time the less relaxed one can be the more productive one.
Formal meetings often skip over the why, don't allow time for brainstorming or miss out defining next action steps.
The most productive way to think about projects, situations and topics is the natural way. Natural is not necessarily the normal way.
The Natural Planning Model:
- Defining purpose and principles
- Outcome visioning
- Identifying next actions.
This natural planning model often goes in the face of traditional methods.
The Unnatural Planning Model. Often starts with 'What’s a good idea?' This is a good question, but should only really be asked when you are around 80% through your planning.
Need to define purpose, create vision, collect initial bad and good ideas before you can attempt to come up with a 'good idea'.
Unnatural planning often leads to not planning. It doesn't work. What ends up happening is the Reactive Planning Model, or crisis.
The Reactive Planning Model:
- Vision and Purpose
Reactive planning is the reverse of Natural planning.
Purpose = asking why. Purpose must be clear and specific. You must be able to answer ‘When am I off purpose?’
Principles = the standards and values you hold. Complete the sentence ‘I would give others totally free rein to do this as long as they…’
‘What behavior might undermine what I’m doing, and how can I prevent it?’
Principles define the parameters of action and criteria for behavior.
Vision/Outcome = having a picture of what success looks like. What it will look right in the real world.
The Power of Focus creates ideas and thought patterns.
You won’t see how to do it until you see yourself doing it. Easy to do if you have had success before, but harder if you don’t have any reference points.
Three basic steps for developing a vision:
- View the project from beyond the completion date.
- Envision wild success.
- Capture features, aspects, qualities you imagine in place.
Brainstorming = how. When you identify with a picture that is different from your current reality, ideas start to flow.
Give yourself the permission to express any idea, then figure out how it fits.
External brainstorming (such as mind maps on paper) have the advantage of being able to generate for ideas by being able to reflect back on previous ones. Get the ideas out of your head into objective, reviewable formats.
Basic brainstorming principles:
- Don’t judge, challenge, evaluate or criticize (be aware of the thoughts you are having, primary idea must be expansion).
- Go for quantity over quality.
- Postpone analysis and organization.
Organizing = identifying components, sequences (order), events and priorities. Comes about naturally after ideas are out of your head.
Basics of organizing:
- Identify significant pieces
- Sort by one or more of (components/sequences/priorities)
- Detail to the required degree
What’s the next action? Ask the question about what needs to be done next. Is reality based (runway level).
A project is planned if every next-action step has been decided on every front so that it can be moved on without something else having to be done first.
If the next-action is someone else’s, it still must be noted (Waiting For).
You need to do as much planning as you need to get the project off your mind. Most projects only need a listing of the outcome and next-action. Others may require some brainstorming; a further few might need deliberate application of the five phases.
Greater clarity will be gained by going up the natural planning scale (action to organize for example). If you need more to happen, move down the planning scale.
You don’t need more skills, just different behaviors.