The Power of Personal Planning - Part 2

Personal planning is not for everyone. It requires an investment of 10-15 minutes every week. That doesn't sound like much, but it takes a certain amount of self discipline for a manager at any level to pull their head out of the operational trough each week and think about the future. It takes discipline to deliberately face what needs to be done rather than just doing what we are used to...rather than just reacting. It takes discipline to review our own accomplishments each week and ask ourselves why we didn't accomplish more.

I despise busy work in any part of the planning process and with potentially hundreds of employees performing personal planning, there must be a clear cost benefit...or the exercise can be a colossal waste of time. The cost benefit equation is simple. On the cost side, we need to ensure that our process absolutely minimizes the costs, time, and complexity. On the benefit side, the process must cause/force us to go beyond the status quo, and achieve results much greater than where momentum would take us anyway. In other words, if we are going to end up in the same place with or without this new effort...why bother?

Personal planning will only work well if it is part of a comprehensive and cascaded planning process. For employees of our clients with such a process, there are only a few basic steps to follow:

  1. Practical Vision and Strategic Imperatives
    Start with the Practical Vision and Strategic Imperatives for your organization as established by managers. These are high level objectives that you've probably been handed as part of the corporate strategic plan.
  2. Personal Objectives
    Define the personal objectives that you need to accomplish every month to make your personal contribution to your unit and company imperatives. These do not include the actions of your day to day operational objectives, just the actions that will contribute to the Strategic Imperatives and ultimately the strategic gap of the organization.
  3. Personal Actions
    Define the personal actions you need to accomplish every week to accomplish your personal objectives, and your job ---this becomes your to do list. Based on a prioritized view of your 30 Day Personal Objectives, and all of the regular "stuff" you need to accomplish, what is on your to do list for next week?
  4. Update
    Your personal objectives monthly.
  5. Update
    Your personal actions weekly.

Now...Put it to Work

Here is a simple exercise you can try right now to get an idea for how Personal Planning might work for you:

  1. Think of one metric by which you measure success in your work. It can be financial or non financial...or maybe just a feeling.
  2. Describe, using a number or a sentence, where you are today as measured by that metric.
  3. Write down a number or a sentence to describe where you honestly believe that metric will be 3 years from today if you continue on your current honest and pragmatic.
  4. Increase that number by at least 50%, or write a short description of what 50% better would look like.
  5. Write down the one big thing that you must accomplish in the next 12 months to give yourself a serious hope of achieving your 3 year target. This is a personal version of a strategic imperative.
  6. Write down the 1-4 personal objectives you will need to accomplish in the next 30 days to kick off the process to accomplish your 12 month task.
  7. Write down all the things that need to be on your to do list next week.

This just shows a slice of the process, but it gives you an idea of the simplicity and the power of personal planning. With the basic process in sight, how do we get started? I'll answer that question in the next newsletter.