Activity 12 - Making a Plan That Won‘t Work

Tuesday, 06 December 2011 04:36

Maurice Gibbons (c) 2008 Personal Power Press International


1. Success as strategic process thinking.
2. Remember a past experience of strategic planning.
3. Start a step-cluster in your journal.
4. Think through the task of getting to your goal.
5. Make three lists: steps, materials, and contacts.
6. List them all in the order they have to occur.
7. Be ready for your plan not to work.

This is an introduction to process thinking

Do you have something in your life that is not working out? Francis did; she was making enemies at work. Her advisor said, “The process you are using seems perfectly designed to create the results you are experiencing.” Francis said, “You don’t even know what’s going on.” “I don’t need to, Francis,” she replied, “ It’s quite clear that something you are doing is alienating your colleagues, and that’s the clue you need to turn things around.”

Francis got it, and immediately jotted down several ideas for a different process in her journal, a process for befriending colleagues rather than alienating them. She got the key idea in life that the process you employ produces the results you get. Taking 100% responsibility has a huge upside.

In this section you are not just learning to plan your project, you are practicing process thinking for success in your life, work, relationships, and recreation. Plan to succeed wherever you are.

Connecting with your past experience

You now have a clear and desirable goal. You know from previous activities what you want to accomplish. The next task is to figure out what process to use to get that job done smoothly and efficiently.

Many operations that seem distant, strange, and unfamiliar at first become more accessible and comfortable if we can connect them with our own previous experience. Can you recall a time when you really wanted something to happen and planned for it carefully, step-by-step, taking everything into consideration to make sure nothing went wrong? If so, that experience will make a perfect connection with our next subject, how to get to your goal.

Rory remembered a special romantic night he created for his lover; the dinner out, the rose-petal path up the stairs at home, the steamy bath with suds and oils and cold wine. It was a perfect example to make him enthusiastic about strategic planning.

Remember your example as fully as you can. What did you do? What worked and what didn’t. Did you expect any problems and plan to avoid them? Did your plan work? If it didn’t, there is still plenty to learn from it.

If it was a really good experience, that is, one from which you can learn a lot, it may be valuable to write about it in your journal. One way to do that is to write about it as a model of planning. If anything seems strange at first, find a connection with your own experience and that will help you to make it familiar and accessible.

Recent research makes it clear that we learn something new more easily if we connect it with a past personal experience. This helps us to make the strange familiar and often assures us that we already know something about the topic at hand.

Maurice Gibbons (c) 2009 Personal Power Press International

Safina’s experience

Safina planned to seek higher office in the electronics company she worked for. Her problem was that she had no plan about how to get there. Her competitors did. They took on extra tasks that made them visible to the manager who would make the decision. One took training in the area. Another made a point of declaring his intention and talking to everyone in the department. The competitors also knew Safina was planning to apply and began a subtle campaign of questioning his ability and her foreign accent. Safina never had a chance. To her credit, however, she studied what happened and learned several profound lessons about planning for success in the future.

Planning and strategic planning

Safina never had a chance because she did nothing to make what she wanted to happen happen. To be in the game, she needs to plan; to be successful, she needs to plan strategically. So here are the basics of strategic planning:

1. Study the task: Does your goal statement clearly define the outcome you want? If it doesn’t, state it again more clearly. Visualize doing the task, from start to finish, as a mental movie. Then think through what is involved.

Think of doing the task like telling a story: describe the beginning—how you get started—the middle—how you get the job done—and the end—how you complete the job and celebrate. Safina will tell the story of her campaign for advancement

2. Decide on a strategy: Think of tactics that you could employ so that your success is guaranteed—or at least as close as you can come to guaranteed? Safina is in a race. Her strategy is not how to finish; it’s how to win. Sometimes we strategize to win, sometimes to do the best work, sometimes for the most romance, the greatest safety, the highest quality, the greatest challenge, or the most fun. Take that extra step. Be strategic, be thoughtful, be creative.

There are many strategies and the ones you need are those that suit you and your situation. Here are some examples:

1. Play to your strengths (see Activity #4), and emphasize them.

2. In hard times, turn disadvantage into advantage. Turn being fired into time with the family, get retrained, help others, start your own business, begin a new career in line with the times, in green technology for example.

3. Be creative. Have ideas about how to improve your work and your results.

4. Adapt your plan to the needs and interests of those you want to influence.

5. See an opportunity or create one.

6. Collaborate. Link yourself with influence, talent and power. Connect with people already winning in their work and lives.

7. Be positive. Plan for, and expect, success.

Go through the story and imagine the problems that might arise.


* You have a goal. The task now is to plan how to get to that goal. A plan gets you there; a strategic plan gets you there as efficiently as possible. This is the time to be the arrow

* First, list the steps you will have to take to produce the finished product named in your goal.

* Second, list all the supplies, tools, and other items that you will need to take those steps.

* Third, list what you will need from other people and institutions.

* Fourth, state a time when each step will be done.


Stella’s campaign

* Stella planned the steps she would take in campaigning for promotion to financial officer in her company:

* She listed five improvements she could make in her present performance, improvements that would be noticed.

* She named twelve influential people in the company that she would contact for support.

* She identified a course in bookkeeping to enroll in.

* She planned to arrange an interview with the current financial officer.

* Then Stella arranged the steps in the sequence she would follow when she implemented them:

* She planned to arrange an interview with the current financial officer.

* She listed five improvements she could make in her present performance, improvements that would be noticed.

* She identified a course in bookkeeping to enroll in.

* She named twelve influential people in the company that she would contact for support.

Stella wanted to be sure the job was open, that she could be a candidate, and she wanted the officer to take notice of the improvements she planned to make. Then she could begin clearly working more intensely and effectively on her planned improvements.

Taking the course would improve her skills, add to her credentials and be noticeable. Once her new image was established, she could begin seeking support from her colleagues. She has a well thought out plan with items in effective order.

List important items in order.

List the steps that you will need to follow to reach your goal, and then place them in the sequence that will be most effective.

Check your work by walking through the process in your imagination. If something doesn’t fit, change it.

Gather supplies and make contacts

Now that you have a plan, you can add the supplies that you need in order to execute each step, and/or the contact that you need with others to make arrangements required for each step.

To achieve the first step, Stella had to call the financial officer’s secretary and make an appointment. She may also call a coach to help her prepare for the interview.

In the second step, Stella planned to learn to do financial records on Excel. She needed to purchase the program and arrange for training in a course or from a friend.

In the third step, Stella needed to enroll and to find someone to go with.

In the fourth step, Stella needed to gather and install the email addresses of the twelve people she planned to contact, and then write the note that she would send to each person to arrange an informal meeting.

Stella estimated that she had until the new year to finish her promotion project and that gave her two months to complete her plan. Her final draft began like this:

    November 5th. Call financial officer’s secretary to arrange interview.

    November 12th. Meet financial officer to discuss my intentions and opportunities.

With only a few steps, this is a very abbreviated plan. Yours will be longer. Fifteen steps would be normal, thirty steps not unusual for a project.

* Note that the purpose here is to learn a basic approach to planning. This approach may not seem necessary for a simple project, but remember, you are learning the process so that when your goals become complex, you simply build on this systematic scheme.

Don’t expect your plan to work

Plans are necessary or the two halves of the bridge you are building will not meet over the river, but as soon as you start something you are imposing your will on the world, and the world will often resist. Imagine that your project is to put on a play. Your plan is perfectly composed and you begin, but alas, the hall you planned to rent is booked, the lead has broken her leg skiing, and you receive word in the mail that royalties for using the play are $5000.00. Success always depends upon your ability to adapt your plan to meet the unexpected.

Remember, the three basic topics of planning are actions, supplies, and contacts. And the main theme is to design a pathway that will take you to your goal as efficiently as possible. Remember: this is your preparation for action.

Where are you?

You stand tiptoe on the edge of leaping into action. How are you doing?

1. Not so hot. I’ve read everything, but I haven’t done anything yet. My resistance is winning. I can twitter, but don’t ask me to take charge.

2. Okay. I’ve been doing stuff, when I can, sort of, but not many lights are going on yet. I can see how all this will be helpful, but who’s got the time for all this?

3. Good. I’m into it and learning a lot. Not always what you may want, I bet, but it’s what I want. I have to admit I’m not really challenging myself very much though, and I’m not looking at me yet, but i will.

4. Excellent. I had to struggle but I’m underway now and on a roll. I’m really going to get going with this activity. I’ve got a great plan and I can’t wait to get going. I’m starting to see a really exciting possibility for the future.

Decide which one of these comes closest to describing where you are, and think about it. You may want to step up.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 December 2011 17:45