Planning often gets a bad rap. It’s boring. It takes too long. It makes things sound too scary, or it’s never realistic enough to make it worth the effort… So how do we create plans that make our work easier, instead of just taking up time?
Here are two tips to get you started…
1. Involve Your Team
Planning should never be done by one person, even if they are the most experienced and knowledgeable on the team. People who do the work are in the best position to plan how and when to get the work done based on their commitments. It is true that if team members are not skilled at estimating their own work, they may make mistakes at first, but they will learn and fine-tune their plans faster and better than anyone else.
2. Use Collaborative Tools and Techniques
Just getting the whole team in a room to discuss tasks or a schedule the project leader put together is not collaboration. Using collaborative tools and techniques, such as brainstorming, relationship mapping, and cause analysis, enables team members to make commitments they can meet.
For example, if a project manager estimated the work of a building a deck on the back of a house, she may not take into consideration the availability of the carpenter based on other projects, or she may not identify the process for completing the work as well as the carpenter himself. This will result in a plan that does not include all the work and a work schedule that is too tight if the carpenter is overcommitted.
By collaborating with the carpenter, all these considerations will be taken into account and result in a better plan that the carpenter can commit to.
A truly helpful plan must focus on real issues, existing expertise of your team, and their desire to share it with one another in order to find realistic solutions.