Make a Plan – but not too much!

Here’s an idea: Prepare a plan for the change process, but don’t make it too detailed!

What comes to mind when you think of a plan? Many people will have an initial image of an architect’s blueprints for a new home, or a detailed Gantt chart with activities shown for each month over several years.

I find that these mental ideas are very limiting – and completely inappropriate when preparing for a change initiative!

Consider instead this approach:

Develop a plan in which you identify the main phases of the change process. This can be tied to deliverables along the way, it can take account of timeframes and deadlines. Just don’t make it too detailed.

Because things will change. It will take longer to get started than expected. The budget might be insufficient for ramping up as planned. New opportunities might appear, so you end up being able to move more quickly that anticipated.

Instead of making that detailed plan to accounts for all the needed activities over an extended period, allow your planning process to consist of these two things:

  • Develop the high-level plan, identifying phases and key steps/deliverables. Use this to mobilize resources and clarify the direction of movement.
  • Create a more detailed plan for the first six months. And then continue this on a rolling basis.

Using this approach, you can always be looking six months ahead, with an eye on the overall plan.

The short-term plan allows you to adjust to real-time challenges and opportunities.

It makes it easier to incorporate lessons from experience, so that your operational approach remains relevant to the situations you actually encounter (as opposed to the situation that you mapped out at the start of the change process).

Keep in mind the painful lesson offered by experienced military leaders:

No plan survives first contact with the enemy.

The rolling six-month planning approach helps you stay current and leads to more informed implementation of your overall plan.


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