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The Simple Plan
This week was spring-cleaning week at Gryphontech Headquarters (which also happens to be my personal living quarters). Those who know me well also know that I subscribe to “creative order” in my immediate environment, which often leaves it, well, disorderly. As such, spring cleaning is a must at least once a year, and is a project in its own right. As I was mopping the floor at one stage I realised that I was approaching this effort in the same way as I would any other project, whether it is helping others to establish their new business, coaching indiviuals for a better life or redesigning organisations – the underlying process stays the same. This process is an application that I derived from the still unknown Infinite System that is used in Gryphontech to understand the flows and balances in complex problems. In today's article I will show you how simple it really is to make a plan that you could stick to by following this simple rule: Everything we do has a Reason and a Purpose. Purpose requires Actions, Actions require People, Actions and People require Resources.
have other work to do and wouldn't be able to take an entire two days to go through the process.
What needs to be done?
Actions define outcomes. In a planning method that starts with outcomes, action is the second thing you need to think about. In planning my spring clean I had to decide which actions would help me to fulfill my desire of a clean and orderly home, whilst giving me enough time to work and rest. So, taking the first criterion into account I knew that I had to do the following: 1. Laundry 1. Wash, 2. Dry 3. Fold 2. Clean cupboards (includes refrigerator) 1. Take stuff out 2. Wash inside 3. Dry 3. Sort out stuff from cupboards 1. Separate junk from the good stuff 2. Throw away junk 3. Put good stuff back into cupboards in orderly fashion 4. Wash dishes 5. Mop floors In order to achieve this outcome alongside my daily activities I needed a strategy. My strategy consisted of simply dealing with one room a day. First my bedroom (which included laundry), then the office, then the bathroom, then the living room/kitchen/hallway which are all open plan (including dishes and mopping). Four days in total. But what if you don't know what to do? We often plan things we haven't tried before (which is the purpose of planning – to test things out on paper first), so what if we get stuck? The answer is simple – look on the Internet, in books or ask somebody who might know. If you can't find somebody then ask me – this is what I do for a living after all!
What do you want?
There are two kinds of planning in this world – problem oriented planning and solution oriented planning. In the first case planning is very complex because our problems are pushing the planning process forward without a vision making up the balance. This means we try to plan for any eventuality which, as you might know, is impossible. Starting at the end is always the best approach. When you know what you want you can build a road to get there. If you don't know what you want then you need to take some time to figure it out. Let us take my spring cleaning effort as an example – what did I want? Firstly I wanted my home to be clean and orderly. Secondly I needed time to do other things since I
14 October 2005
Who needs to do it?
Purposeful actions are performed by people. The next question you therefore need to answer is who those people are. In my example I might have been able to achieve a clean and orderly home in two days if I had somebody to help me out. In your project you might need somebody with specific
Copyright © 2005 Gericke Potgieter
The Simple Plan
expertise to help you achieve your goal. If your project is to refit the kitchen and you don't know the difference between a screwdriver and a wrench, then you might want a carpenter who is able to fit the whole thing together. You might also need somebody who can design your dream kitchen. If your project is to establish a restaurant (because you are a great cook after all), you might want somebody who has experience in creating business plans as well as somebody who knows how to finance your business. These people are often specialists in areas that you might not understand fully. The important thing is to remember that it is OK to ask for help. We are not made to do things alone!
My plan didn't work!
Sometimes things happen that are out of our control. The secret is to be flexible in your planning and execution to respond to these events. In reality, a plan can only fail if a) something was not done properly (or not at all), b) somebody wasn't there to do something or c) you didn't have the right resources to do it with. In order to have a good plan that will work, all of these things need to be in order. When you've written down your plan, ask yourself about your limitations. Overcoming limitations require only two things – a)time (as valuable experiences) and b) effort, which equates to a strategy. Time + Effort = Strategy.
Try this exercise: 1. Pick three small projects at your work or at home that you want to take on 2. For each project clearly write down the outcomes you desire 3. For each outcome write down the actions required, starting with general actions and specifying them where needed (see my example) 4. For each action write down a person that would have to take responsibility for the action 5. Looking at the actions and the people involved write down what resources you need in terms of materials, space and money (or something you can exchange) 6. Let the plans rest for a day or two and review them – do they fulfill your need or solve the problem? If not, go through them looking at what information is missing. If it does, well done! 7. Now go out and do it, planning only gives you a plan. Doing it gives you a result! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me electronically at: firstname.lastname@example.org If you found this article useful, please feel free to forward it to friends who might benefit from it. You may also visit my web site at http://www.gryphontech.co.za to learn more about Gryphontech and what it entails. You will also find previously articles in the downloads section. I look forward to hearing from you.
What do you need to do it with?
Actions and people require resources. Resources might include materials, space and money (or anything of value that you could exchange). Be careful not to list time here – time is not a resource because it isn't limited. If you wonder why, read the article “Its About Time” that you can find on my web site. In order to clean my home I needed cleaning materials (mop, bucket, cloth, anti-septic, anti-viral/anti-bacterial sponges, hammer and chisel for the really tough areas). If you are renovating the kitchen you will need the necessary space to fit your kitchen. You would also need money to pay for the materials and the contractors. If you know the designer really well you could persuade him or her with a chocolate cake baked in your new oven.
Now that you have your plan in front of you (simple, wasn't it?) you need to take a good look at it and decide whether the plan balances out the Reason you had for doing it in the first place. People often confuse Reason and Purpose. The simplest way to explain it is to say that your Reason for doing something is the need that pushes you, whilst the Purpose is the solution that pulls you. To have a good plan that works the Purpose must balance out the Reason. The solution must fulfill the need. Did my plan to clean my home fulfill my need? It sure did. I now have a sparkling clean home with ordered cupboards and I had enough time to start two new projects this week. Therefore my plan was a good plan.
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Copyright © 2005 Gericke Potgieter