Two keys for planning team projects

Ann Michael makes several good points in her post, Has Planning Evolved? The short answer: YES.

Our objectives are abstract and high level – more like working guidelines. Our existing markets change quickly and new markets continuously emerge. Our customers continually surprise us. We have an idea of where we’re heading (a goal or a target), but we can’t define exactly what we need to do to get there.

We must accept that revising a plan when new infomation is available is often the correct course of action. So something isn’t a failure just because it didn’t unfold as we planned it. In fact, how we react to changes is ultimately the measure of success.

Planning is a core activity for effective teamwork. It generates guidelines for the team and helps to ensure that team members share common objectives and expectations. Because change has become so constant for most organizations, effective planning involves two key aspects:

  1. identify alternative strategies and tactics that can be used based on the circumstances that arise during projects; and
  2. identify the “unknowns” that the team will need to turn into “knowns” in order to choose the best alternative strategies and tactics.

Think of planning as anticipating a set of decision points along the project timeline. The intitial plan can usually be followed through the first stage(s). Once new knowledge becomes available, plans for subsequent stages can be adapted. The better your team can anticipate when decisions about changes will be needed, and what new knowledge the team will need in order to make each decision, the less time and energy will be exhausted on activities that ultimately are tossed aside. Ann puts it this way:

The real underlying goal of our actions (and our plans) is to learn, apply that knowledge quickly, and then learn more.

Take a look at the full post here and let me know what your thoughts are about planning team projects.

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