Tag Archive: plan

Plan the Work; Work the Plan

June 21st, 2016
from planning to execution

Oftentimes we spend countless hours planning a project with details, responsibilities and timelines, only to forget to work the plan. Once a plan is done, refocus your energy to execution.

We were reminded of this favorite client project and success story related to work processes recently as we were talking with a new GM at a key client about ways to improve service levels rapidly. It reminded us to pay attention to what “works”.

So many clients try complicated and convoluted programs, thinking it is required for success, but it isn’t! Why go down that rabbit hole when simplicity can achieve rapid, bottom line results?!

This particular favorite project made the list due to its simplicity and quick results in the face of quite a bit of doubt and several previous failed attempts to resolve along the way. Who doesn’t love a great underdog story?

In this case, there was one area within the manufacturing process that held up the vast majority of the customer orders. The bottleneck was obvious; thus, identifying it wasn’t the issue! Unfortunately, solving it proved elusive. What worked was simplicity — plan the work; work the plan. Not rocket science but it reduced 80% of the past due within 2 months’ time in a long lead-time, aerospace industry manufacturer.

As with every success, it wouldn’t have occurred if the GM hadn’t supported the plan and made the priority clear. Once the plan and production schedule was communicated, the sole focus was to prepare for and execute the plan. Thus, instead of not having the right skills available at the right time, we knew we’d run into this issue ahead of time, and we proactively resolved it.

And the next 100 items like this fell by the wayside as well. Manager’s attention was redirected to this bottleneck. If the team needed help, the management team would jump to action. Soon, the bottleneck freed up and orders started shipping. Eventually our #1 customer went from being “off the charts” in negative territory to regaining bronze level status. I personally remember this as one of my favorite accomplishments as getting these long-term numbers up consistently over many months to bring the status level up was a TALL order — and great to see!

Are you so far into the weeds that you miss these sorts of obvious solutions? It is easy to do. Instead, take a step back, simplify, execute & succeed.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

The Million Dollar Planner 

The Value of CRM

 



Start planning now to achieve year-end results with critical projects

August 29th, 2013
Priorities, a must in business

Nothing is more critical to your results than good planning, prioritizing, and follow-up.

While looking toward the end of Q3 and the start of planning for 2014, wouldn’t it be nice to achieve year-end results with critical projects?  As many companies and leaders get lost in the holidays, it is an opportunity for those who stay focused on the key priorities. By no means should you forget the holidays and thanking your people for a good year; however, if you channel your efforts on the critical few, you could not only end the year on a positive note but also accelerate project results in time for year-end.

There are several keys to success in delivering project results; however, one simple yet secret weapon is follow-up.  The best plans are useless without follow through and follow-up. I’ve found it quite amazing the number of highly paid, intelligent leaders that do not value or do not make the time to follow-up. Why spend millions of dollars developing plans if you don’t plan to put in the work to make sure they occur?  So what are a few tips to ensure results occur?  1) Plan.  2) Prioritize.  3) Follow-up.

1.     Plan:  First, develop a simple plan.  What needs to be done?  By who?  When?  What support is required?  It doesn’t have to be fancy or use the latest technology (a scrap piece of paper with action items will likely suffice). This will provide the structure for your follow-up.  In my experience across hundreds of projects in multiple industries and geographies, working a simple list is the 80/20 of success.

2.     Prioritize:  Prioritize your follow-up. It isn’t necessary to follow-up on everything. If there is one common mistake in today’s new normal business environment, it is getting caught in an endless sea of tasks in a survival mode.  Instead of going down that rabbit hole, think about what’s most important.  What can have the largest impact on your project between now and the end of the year? Next, follow up on only those priority tasks; for example, the critical path or the A priorities.  If you follow up on only the tasks that are key, the people related to those tasks will intuitively realize the implied importance and prioritize accordingly.

Additionally, the more you are able to explain why the specific tasks are important, the more the people responsible for the tasks will understand and value them themselves. On the other hand, if you followed up on every task, it would just become a nuisance, and you’d likely be ignored.

3.     Follow-up:  Think function & not form. It doesn’t matter whether you follow-up via email, phone, a fancy software or whatever. What matters is that you follow-up. You will achieve the best results if you change your follow-up style to the person you are following up with.

For example, if you are following up with someone who reads email voraciously but doesn’t typically talk on the phone, send an urgent email. On the other hand, if you are following up with someone who enjoys talking with people (regardless of whether he/she has email), pick up the phone.

When you follow up, make sure to follow up in advance of the due date on critical tasks and critical path items. This gives the person an opportunity to remember and plan for the task. I’ve found that 99% of the people will complete the task with this type of follow-up, whereas, without the follow-up, I might receive a 50% completion ratio, mainly due to conflicting priorities and busy schedules.

It isn’t complex, expensive or requires capital investment to follow-up, it just requires a bit of energy, yet, it yields significant results. Why not close out the year with your project team celebrating a significant “win”?

Additional Reading:

Project Failure: How to  Avoid Top Causes

Best Laid Plans: Turning Strategy Into Action Throughout Your Organization