Hi there! I know you’re here because you’re interested in how to create a plan.
I’m excited because you’ve come to the right place. I’ve spent decades creating and executing plans with companies and people, and teaching them how to create and execute plans. I’ve worked with some of the best companies in the world and seen some fantastic successes and catastrophic failures.
If you want to create a plan, there are three steps.
How to Create a Plan: Step 1 – Define Your Objective
The first step is to define your objective.
An objective is a relatively high-level perspective on something you want to accomplish.
There might be several objectives in a plan.
An objective gives you a directional perspective, the big idea of your plan.
What your teacher told you in grade school, while valuable, is only part of the story of creating a plan. SMART goals are great, but they’re not sufficient.
Unfortunately, it’s way too easy to create a SMART goal and then immediately get stuck, lost, or give up. SMART goals can sometimes seem impossible, or they can make it seem like there’s too big of a gap between where you are and where you need to go.
An objective is usually a very simple, straightforward, and even vague term. For example, a company might want to grow revenues or increase margins, while an individual might want to lose weight, have a great relationship, be satisfied at work, or feel better.
How to Create a Plan: Step 2 – Define Key Results
In step two, how to create a plan, you will define more specific indicators of what your objective might look like. There are likely to be a few of these more specific indicators of the objectives.
In more modern planning parlance, these might be called “Key Results.”
What key results, if they were achieved, would be indicative of you achieving your objective?
Key Results give you different perspectives on how to think about your objective. They help you break it down and have a lot of different targets, so you can always be on your way to success along the way. Lots of key results help ensure you don’t get stuck on your first SMART goal (key result) and then wonder why there’s such a gap between what you want and the current reality.
Not seeing progress is the hardest thing as you begin to take action on a plan.
Having lots of possible key results and possible actions makes it easy to get in action and see quick progress toward your goal.
Often, SMART goals make good Key Results.
For example, if I was going to increase my revenues as a company, I might hire more sales reps. I might have a Key Result (SMART goal) to hire 10 sales reps by April 1st. Backing into that, I might realize I need to hire a sales manager by January 1st. After all, who will hire and manage the sales reps? By January 1st, I probably need to design an onboarding training for the new sales manager and sales reps.
These examples are clearly defined enough that you can know for sure that you’re likely moving in the direction of increasing revenues.
There are certainly many more key results possible, depending on your personal or business objectives and the environment you’re in.
For personal examples, to lose weight, you might find yourself a nutritionist and get a gym membership by November 1st, etc.
Three kinds of Key Results
There are three kinds of Key Results. You’ll find more about each one in the attachment linked below, and each type contributes important dimensions to the overall plan.
The more specifically you define your key results and your ultimate objective, the more progress you can make, and the more quickly you can make it.
Once you’ve identified some key results that are indicative of where you want to go, you’re ready for the next stage of the planning process.
How to Create a Plan: Step 3 – Identify Actions and Initiatives
The third thing to create a plan is, for each key result, to identify the actions that would be necessary to fulfill that key result. Sometimes simple actions won’t be enough. It may take entire initiatives, entire projects, to achieve one or more key results. The good news is initiatives can be broken down into single actions.
As your plan evolves, everything can be broken down into specific, easy-to-complete tasks. In fact, at their core, any plan can be broken down into two-minute tasks, and anyone can complete a two-minute task. It’s always possible to break a plan down to a point where starting and making progress is inevitable.
For example, in an enterprise, you’ll need to request more headcount to hire sales reps. You’ll need to create an org chart. You’ll need to define a management plan, then you’ll need to fulfill several policy-based procedures.
If you just say, “I’m gonna hire sales reps on April 1st”, and decide you’re going to place an ad a few weeks before, and suddenly have people hired, that’s a failure scenario. In a big organization, it takes more than that. There’s a whole project required to get people fully hired and onboarded with equipment and a desk and all the resources they’ll need.
Even in your personal life, saying “I’m gonna go to the gym every morning at 9am“, sounds good. But doing it, if you haven’t done it before, or haven’t done it much, becomes a real project.
You’ve got to look for all the things that have to happen, often starting the night before, to prepare for leaving the house on time, to get to the gym. You’ll need to think about pre-packing a bag for post-workout, placing out your gym clothes, having a workout plan, and having toiletries for post-gym and post-shower. Then you’ll have to have a plan for your route from the gym to your final destination. You’ll want to define a post-workout meail plan for how and when you’ll eat breakfast and how you’re going to keep that routine up, with enough gym clothes or plans to do laundry often enough to ensure you can meet your weekly gym routine.
It takes something to create and sustain a new routine if this is the first time you’ve created a new routine. It’s not just that you’ll say you’re going to do it; for example, buy that gym membership and it’s all done. That’s just the beginning.
Those are the three steps of how to create a plan. If you want to do it yourself, you have everything you need in the instructions above. At the same time, if you want help, that’s available.
How to Create a Plan: Step 4 – Use my free planning guide
Get the strategic planning guide down below.
It’ll walk you through the planning process with templates. It will show you how to think about the various stages of creating and executing a plan. It’ll also give you examples.
How to create a plan: Step 5 — Let’s create a plan together!
Finally, if you want direct feedback and expertise, if you want 1-on-1 help, the guide includes the opportunity to meet with me. We could do a walk-through of your plan and an actual Strategic Planning session.
I’m here to help and appreciate the opportunity to do so. I’m excited that you get some value from the above.
Talk to you soon.
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