SEEDS OF CHANGE
Despite enthusiastic beginnings, many well-intended plans never translate into action, and an even larger number lose momentum along the way. What enables good ideas and plans to take root? As a business coach, advocate and facilitator of strategic planning I have observed quite a few projects – some that succeed and others that don’t.
Based on my personal experience, going through many articles and books on strategic planning and interviewing quite a number of leaders. I have drawn some conclusions. Interestingly enough, there are a small number of key factors that play a large role in whether plans and projects move forward or stall.
There are four key ingredients:
1. The plan is important.
2. The goals are manageable and clearly defined.
3. Sufficient time has been allocated to execute the plan.
4. The plan has support
IS THE PLAN IMPORTANT?
Why undertake the initiative? For any change to be sustainable, it must be important to the organization. Clarity of purpose is key to selecting the right ideas to work on.
What are the benefits of success? Conversely, what are the consequences of NOT achieving the goal? If the benefits of the goal, and/or the consequences of doing nothing aren’t significant, then the challenges encountered become excuses to give up. Many plans don’t make it because at the end of the day they aren’t perceived as important enough.
When a plan truly matters even the most daunting challenges can be overcome.
ARE THE GOALS MANAGEABLE AND CLEARLY DEFINED?
“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”
Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
After the initial dreaming stage ends any new project can cause anxiety. The stress often stems from uncertainty. Until an effort is analyzed and broken down into specific tasks it can be unclear how a larger project will be completed. Once time is devoted to creating logical, discrete tasks, the unknown becomes manageable. Unfortunately, many projects become paralyzed before the tasks are ever defined.
Without small, clearly defined goals it is difficult to measure progress or see one’s way through to successful completion of a project.
“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” Henry Ford (1863-1947)
IS THERE TIME?
Managing time frustrates all of us, especially when more work is being added to an already full plate. But to truly effect change, successful businesses allocate time for new activities. Here’s a good rule of thumb for a business owner or manager: Don’t spend more than 60-80% of your time on the routine activities of your daily work. Devote the remainder to the projects that will bring about change and improvement.
How will it all get done? More work with the same resources forces us to reevaluate and prioritize the current workload. Critical activities must still be supported. This generally means making some tough decisions about supporting activities that may not be important or finding ways to increase productivity.
There is a lot of excellent material written on time management. Here are a few great online resources:
IS THERE SUPPORT?
It’s easy to get bogged down on a project when it doesn’t enjoy support. Without support most plans are impossible to implement. Support can come from clients, employees, partners, friends and/or your family. If there is a team, employees, or partners, it is critical to involve them in defining the agenda, determining how to tackle the effort and where to find the time.
A business mentor, confidante or coach can also play an important role in helping to translate good ideas into successful ventures. Business coaches are trained in understanding the differences in how people think and act. Some people focus on today others live in the future. Some thrive on planning, and others are quick to execute. A business coach can help individuals and teams build on their strengths and recognize their blind spots.
Any big change effort sows seeds of doubt. Having someone to keep you focused on the big picture can make the difference between sticking with a plan and giving it up prematurely. Clients enlist coaches to empower them to effect the changes that are important to them. Is there someone behind you and your agenda?
Written by Helene Mazur
Helene is the founder of Princeton Performance Dynamics, an executive coaching and strategic planning facilitation company for business and non-profit leaders and their teams. Helene’s passion is helping her clients to focus their goals, see new perspectives on their current situation, put in place realistic, motivating plans, and execute to achieve new levels of success.
Permission to Reprint: Helene Mazur’s articles below may be reprinted hard-copy or electronically in your publications provided that the short bio at the end of each article is included and a copy of the hard-copy or electronic publication is forwarded to Princeton Performance Dynamics, 81 Bertrand Drive, Princeton, New Jersey 08540. Permission given for reasonable editing for space constraints and publication format. For articles electronically published, a live click-able hyperlink to www.ppdbusinesscoaching.com is also required. If the above parameters are not met, a payment of $300 per article, per usage, is expected. Send your check to Princeton Performance Dynamic at the above address.