Monday Mornings with Madison



Have you ever seen a sign posted on an office cubicle that reads:

“Your lack of planning is not my emergency.” 

At most workplaces, projects usually require the involvement of several people or a full team.  Everyone knows that teamwork is important.  This is not a novel concept.  But what happens when one member of the team is not pulling his/her weight?  What happens if one person’s ability to perform is directly, negatively impacted by another person’s lack of performance?  The consequences can be serious.  One employee’s failure to perform can delay a project, incur significant added costs and/or create an atmosphere of mistrust within the team… all of which hurt the company.

What do you do with an employee or colleague that is just not ‘cutting the mustard?’  The truth is that most people do not fail to perform because they are lazy.  It is typically not a lack of desire but rather a lack of either:
A.   planning / focus, also known as “Planning Your Work” and/or
B.   persistence / perseverance, also known as “Working Your Plan”.
It is either a lack of planning or persistence that results in the failure of one person – and perhaps, like the domino effect, others on the team — to get the job done. 

NFL Coach Tom Landry once said, “Setting a goal is not the main thing.  It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”  Basically Landry knew that good intentions, warm fuzzy thoughts and attempting to “will” good things to happen accomplish absolutely nothing.  As Margaret Thatcher once said, the key to an individual’s success – and thus a team and a company’s success – is to “Plan your work for today and everyday, and then work your plan.’  It’s a simple formula. Yet some people miss it.  It’s easy to see why. There are so many conflicting, and often confusing, messages out there that demand attention.  That is why a roadmap is necessary.

Before we get to the basics of how to ‘plan the work’ and then ‘work the plan’, it bears mention that many people tend to underestimate how much time and resources a given project may consume.  The most common management mistake is for a manager to tell an employee that they “just need a little _____”.  You can fill in the blank with any myriads of tasks and find that ‘just’ and ‘little’ grossly underestimate the true amount of time and resources it takes to get that particular job done.

That is why it is so important to prepare a work plan before starting a project and share that plan with the leadership to ensure that you are heading in the right direction.  No point in getting half way through a project only to learn that no one realized how long it was going to take, how much it was going to cost or how complicated it was going to be.  The time and effort spent planning on the front end is well worth it and can ultimately save loads of time and resources on the overall project.  Planning includes determining the scope of the job, identifying the staff it will involve, outlining the specific deliverables, creating the work breakdown, listing the activities to complete the deliverables, putting those activities in logical sequence, estimating hard and soft costs, developing a schedule, estimating a budget, and determining the risks.  Perhaps that is why major companies have Project or Change Managers whose sole function is to “Plan the Work” for projects and then oversee teams as they “Work the Plan.” 

Hint:  That is a nice little introduction to next week’s essay – Part 2 – on how to “Plan the Work”! 
Don’t miss it. 

“Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” Pablo Picasso

© 2010 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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