Project Planning – Missions, Projects, Tasks, and Goals

Project Planning – Missions, Projects, Tasks, and Goals
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Project Planning and Leadership – the LC Way

You can only count on luck to achieve so much. For the rest of your goals and objectives you must learn to plan effectively. No mission, project, task, or goal is ever achieved to its fullest without a good plan. Before you can create a plan you must first have a Vision and recognize where you want to go. Your Vision of where you want to go and what you want to achieve, is the focal point of your plan.

Step 1: Create a Vision or Receive a Mission

prepare
Identification of goals – How do you create a vision? What do you do after you’re given a task to complete from your manager? Some people seem to simply know where they want to go, where the team needs to go, where the business needs to go and where their life needs to go. Other people need to work a little harder to identify these destinations. Listen to your gut, trust your experience, and picture in your mind’s eye a vision of where you want to go. Step two will fall into place and the process is the same for each vision you create or mission/task you receive.

Step 2: Draft the Heads-Up & initial time-table

Calendar date
A good heads-up requires covering four general sections of information: Situation, Goal, General Instructions, and Specific Instructions. The heads-up addresses everyone involved and affected. Be thorough and realistic in your completion of each section below: The Situation: An overall assessment of your current status. Once you know where you want to go, you need to conduct a good assessment of your current status. Clearly identify the current situation and be completely honest about it; tell it like it is.
 
Remember, identifying the current situation is the first major factor of leadership. Don’t forget to include others’ perspectives and use all your available resources (PET: People, Equipment, Time) to accurately determine the current status. The situation should also include an assessment of any known obstacles at that time.
 
Identifying known obstacles allows you and your team to pro-actively plan and prepare for dealing with them as you set out to accomplish your goal. The Goal: A definitive statement of what is to be accomplished and the deadline (No Later Than (NLT) time) for completion. Clearly identify the goal and be specific about what is to be accomplished. Be sure the goal statement is clear, concise and to the point. Take time to ensure everyone on the team succinctly understands it forwards and back, and that there are no misunderstandings within the team; ensure everyone is on the same page. General Instructions: For Groups, Sub-Teams, and other Departments — Identify your PET (People, Equipment & Time). In this section you will begin to identify, in general terms, a priority of events and the resources needed to take the first steps towards successfully completing your plan and putting it into action. Provide direction to your team and team leaders (anyone who leads a sub-team) by providing guidance about preparations needed, information to be gathered, others that must be informed, and so on. Select pieces/tasks you can delegate to those most suited to accomplish them successfully and independently. Issue assignments to others including completion times. At this point, you also need to establish a tentative schedule or time-table for everyone to follow. The time-table can and likely will be modified along the way. However, an initial time-table is always needed early in the planning process because it helps keep people on track and focused. At a minimum the time-table must reflect the No Later Than (NLT) time of completion for the overall task/goal and the current time now. These are your two most critical times, the difference between them is all the available time you have to work with. Start with the overall goal NLT time and ‘backwards plan’ to your current time. Sequentially fill in the tasks that need to be accomplished along the way and when each is to be completed by. The time-table will serve as a measurement tool that helps you and your team stay focused. It will be used to chart progress and raise flags if you fall behind or get off course. You may find it helpful to identify a team member to be responsible for time-table updates, progress, changes, and alerts along the way. Specific Instructions: Key Individuals and Team Leaders — In greater detail, identify what you need to share with your key team leaders including any specific tasks you intend to delegate to them. Be sure they know your expectations and how you can be contacted should they need your assistance, support, or additional information. “Heads-up” Summary: What you have just created is your initial plan of what is to be accomplished, by whom and when. Now it’s time to gather the team and communicate it. Once communicated, ask key leaders to paraphrase (brief-back) information to verify complete understanding. Sub-teams, departments and groups should be busy completing tasks delegated to them in the General Instructions section of your initial plan. This may include gathering and/or disseminating information, organizing teams and collecting/identifying additional resources that are needed for the successful completion of the goal. Key individuals and team leaders are ensuring all the pieces are coming together, paying specific attention to the time table and staying focused and completing any specific instructions that you delegate to them. While team members are completing their General Instructions tasks, you are completing the “execution” piece of the forthcoming detailed plan. You are pulling all the data together, outlining in detail the road map, and identifying who will drive, when, and how far.

Step 3: The Detailed Plan The detailed plan contains five sections:

Situation, Goal, Execution, Support, & Communications. The first two sections are essentially repeats of the tentative / Heads-up plan, with updates, modifications, changes and added details that have occurred since the Heads-up was first communicated to the team. Execution – this section is your main responsibility. It is the most crucial piece of the plan and it is essential that the entire team understand it. A good Execution section of any plan contains thorough: Details, Sequential Organization, Identification of Roles & Assignments, Plans for dealing with known obstacles, Rally Points (when and how we’ll regroup if we deviate), Focus on Accountability Support – this section identifies other areas in the organization that may offer assistance to the team or be a resource that can be utilized if necessary. This section informs the team of who, what, where, when, and why and how to obtain needed services and support. Communications – this final section includes contact information and identifies proper communication channels, methods, and mediums. In summary, the process works something like this: Create the Vision or receive a Mission from your manager. Complete the Heads-up. This is an information tool used to give everyone involved a “Heads-Up” and get the ball rolling. Therefore, at a minimum, it must include whatever information or directions required and a time-table to track your progress. Begin with the end in mind. Communicate to the team. Bring everyone together and communicate the information. Finalize the Detailed Plan. The detailed plan includes everything involved: who, what, when, where, why and how-start to finish, for successful completion of your mission/task/goal. Communicate the Detailed Plan. Share the detailed plan with everyone involved. Monitoring and Progress. Keep the whole thing moving forward and measure progress as compared to your time-table. Remember these key items as you proceed: Be sure everyone on the team shares the same understanding of all aspects of the plan. Spot check to ensure delegated tasks are completed and to required standards. Do “Brief-Backs” – ask team members to summarize their role and other aspects and details of the plan. Closing: As a leader you must ensure successful completion of the mission – it is your responsibility. At times Project Planning – Missions, Projects, Tasks, and Goals You can only count on luck to achieve so much. For the rest of your goals and objectives you must learn to plan effectively. No mission, project, task, or goal is ever achieved to its fullest without a good plan. Before you can create a plan you must first have a Vision and recognize where you want to go. Your Vision of where you want to go and what you want to achieve, is the focal point of your plan.

 

Step 1: Create a Vision or Receive a Mission Identification of goals

How do you create a vision? What do you do after you’re given a task to complete from your manager? Some people seem to simply know where they want to go, where the team needs to go, where the business needs to go and where their life needs to go. Other people need to work a little harder to identify these destinations. Listen to your gut, trust your experience, and picture in your mind’s eye a vision of where you want to go. Step two will fall into place and the process is the same for each vision you create or mission/task you receive.

 

Step 2: Draft the Heads-Up & initial time-table

A good heads-up requires covering four general sections of information: Situation, Goal, General Instructions, and Specific Instructions. The heads-up addresses everyone involved and affected. Be thorough and realistic in your completion of each section below: The Situation: An overall assessment of your current status. Once you know where you want to go, you need to conduct a good assessment of your current status. Clearly identify the current situation and be completely honest about it; tell it like it is. Remember, identifying the current situation is the first major factor of leadership. Don’t forget to include others’ perspectives and use all your available resources (PET: People, Equipment, Time) to accurately determine the current status. The situation should also include an assessment of any known obstacles at that time. Identifying known obstacles allows you and your team to pro-actively plan and prepare for dealing with them as you set out to accomplish your goal. The Goal: A definitive statement of what is to be accomplished and the deadline (No Later Than (NLT) time) for completion. Clearly identify the goal and be specific about what is to be accomplished. Be sure the goal statement is clear, concise and to the point. Take time to ensure everyone on the team succinctly understands it forwards and back, and that there are no misunderstandings within the team; ensure everyone is on the same page. General Instructions: For Groups, Sub-Teams, and other Departments — Identify your PET (People, Equipment & Time). In this section you will begin to identify, in general terms, a priority of events and the resources needed to take the first steps towards successfully completing your plan and putting it into action. Provide direction to your team and team leaders (anyone who leads a sub-team) by providing guidance about preparations needed, information to be gathered, others that must be informed, and so on. Select pieces/tasks you can delegate to those most suited to accomplish them successfully and independently. Issue assignments to others including completion times. At this point, you also need to establish a tentative schedule or time-table for everyone to follow. The time-table can and likely will be modified along the way. However, an initial time-table is always needed early in the planning process because it helps keep people on track and focused. At a minimum the time-table must reflect the No Later Than (NLT) time of completion for the overall task/goal and the current time now. These are your two most critical times, the difference between them is all the available time you have to work with. Start with the overall goal NLT time and ‘backwards plan’ to your current time. Sequentially fill in the tasks that need to be accomplished along the way and when each is to be completed by. The time-table will serve as a measurement tool that helps you and your team stay focused. It will be used to chart progress and raise flags if you fall behind or get off course. You may find it helpful to identify a team member to be responsible for time-table updates, progress, changes, and alerts along the way. Specific Instructions: Key Individuals and Team Leaders — In greater detail, identify what you need to share with your key team leaders including any specific tasks you intend to delegate to them. Be sure they know your expectations and how you can be contacted should they need your assistance, support, or additional information. “Heads-up” Summary: What you have just created is your initial plan of what is to be accomplished, by whom and when. Now it’s time to gather the team and communicate it. Once communicated, ask key leaders to paraphrase (brief-back) information to verify complete understanding. Sub-teams, departments and groups should be busy completing tasks delegated to them in the General Instructions section of your initial plan. This may include gathering and/or disseminating information, organizing teams and collecting/identifying additional resources that are needed for the successful completion of the goal. Key individuals and team leaders are ensuring all the pieces are coming together, paying specific attention to the time table and staying focused and completing any specific instructions that you delegate to them. While team members are completing their General Instructions tasks, you are completing the “execution” piece of the forthcoming detailed plan. You are pulling all the data together, outlining in detail the road map, and identifying who will drive, when, and how far.

 

Step 3: The Detailed Plan

The detailed plan contains five sections: Situation, Goal, Execution, Support, & Communications. The first two sections are essentially repeats of the tentative / Heads-up plan, with updates, modifications, changes and added details that have occurred since the Heads-up was first communicated to the team. Execution – this section is your main responsibility. It is the most crucial piece of the plan and it is essential that the entire team understand it. A good Execution section of any plan contains thorough: Details, Sequential Organization, Identification of Roles & Assignments, Plans for dealing with known obstacles, Rally Points (when and how we’ll regroup if we deviate), Focus on Accountability Support – this section identifies other areas in the organization that may offer assistance to the team or be a resource that can be utilized if necessary. This section informs the team of who, what, where, when, and why and how to obtain needed services and support. Communications – this final section includes contact information and identifies proper communication channels, methods, and mediums. In summary, the process works something like this: Create the Vision or receive a Mission from your manager. Complete the Heads-up. This is an information tool used to give everyone involved a “Heads-Up” and get the ball rolling. Therefore, at a minimum, it must include whatever information or directions required and a time-table to track your progress. Begin with the end in mind. Communicate to the team. Bring everyone together and communicate the information. Finalize the Detailed Plan. The detailed plan includes everything involved: who, what, when, where, why and how-start to finish, for successful completion of your mission/task/goal. Communicate the Detailed Plan. Share the detailed plan with everyone involved. Monitoring and Progress. Keep the whole thing moving forward and measure progress as compared to your time-table. Remember these key items as you proceed: Be sure everyone on the team shares the same understanding of all aspects of the plan. Spot check to ensure delegated tasks are completed and to required standards. Do “Brief-Backs” – ask team members to summarize their role and other aspects and details of the plan. Closing: As a leader you must ensure successful completion of the mission – it is your responsibility. At times you may lead; at other times you may follow. You may be required to remove barriers and obstacles that get in the way. You may be a liaison to your manager, providing status updates along the way. And don’t forget your coaching responsibilities. As a leader you must ensure that you are growing your people for tomorrow’s challenges. To be a successful leader you need to know how to plan. Finally, remember: People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.

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