Chapter 3, Day 1
Chapter 3 (Getting Projects Creatively Under Way: The Five Phases of Project Planning)
Key ingredients for “relaxed control are (1) clearly defined outcomes (projects) and the next actions required to move them toward closure, and (2) reminders placed in a trusted system that is reviewed regularly.” This is what Mr. Allen calls horizontal focus.
Vertical focus is “the need for greater rigor and focus to get a project under control, to identify a solution, or to ensure that all the right steps have been determined. Knowing how to think productively in this more “vertical” way and how to integrate the results into your personal system is the second powerful behavior set needed for knowledge work.” Whatever works for you to be creative and productive, even if it’s an informal meeting or thinking, what Mr. Allen calls “back-of-the-envelope planning,” the thing you do “in a coffee shop with a colleague as you’re hashing out the agenda and structure of a sales presentation.”
“The Natural Planning Model: Your brain is the most brilliant and creative planner in the world. Your mind goes thru 5 steps to accomplish most any task: (1) Defining purpose and principles; (2) Outcome visioning; (3) Brainstorming; (4) Organizing; and (5) Identifying next actions.”
“Natural planning is not necessarily normal.” Read this section on pages 58 and 59. These are all great questions to ask yourself and find the answers to, in detail, if you want to hash out a project and get it underway. “Try it for yourself. Choose a project that’s new or stuck or could use improvement. Think of your purpose. Think of what a successful outcome would look like: where would you be physically, financially, in terms of reputation, or whatever? Brainstorm potential steps. Organize your ideas. Decide on the next actions. Are you any clearer about where you want to go and how to get there?”
“The Unnatural Planning Model: You can’t start a meeting with, “OK, who’s got a good idea about this?” First, the purpose must be clear, the vision must be well defined, and all the relevant data must have been collected (brainstormed) and analyzed (organized).” When you are thinking or planning in a way that is not the natural way your brain operates, this will produce a “lack of clarity and increased stress. And if it’s just you, attempting to come up with a “good idea” before defining your purpose, creating a vision, and collecting lots of initial bad ideas is likely to give you a case of creative constipation.” That has been me so many times! Skipping all the initial most important steps of the process, jumping straight to the “good idea.” Oh! That’s why it wasn’t happening!
Remember in school, how you were trained in planning and organizing proactively? You were being taught to organize your thinking. In order to write a well-organized report, you were instructed to construct an outline. And then you were struct. I mean stuck. It was much easier to write the report first, then “make up the outline from the report, after the fact, right?” An outline before the report? Really? How unnatural is that? What’s the point?
“The Reactive Planning Model:” When people do not plan ahead of time, and they wait til the last minute, they have a crisis or what I term as a meltdown. Then, in that last urgent minute, you react. You take immediate “Action! Work harder! Overtime!” Double time! “More people! Get busier!” Then, stress. And lots of it. Then, someone with half a brain says, “We need to get organized!” “Let’s brainstorm.” “So, what are you really trying to do here, anyway? (vision, purpose).”
Go out there today and make it a fantastical Friday! No matter what’s going on in your life (I know there’s some stress there), there is plenty of potential out there, as well as inside each of us and we have the capability to have an awesome day no matter what’s going on. We are capable of doing great things. Aspire to reach higher. Take a risk. Don’t let fear get in the way if it’s something you really want. Do that thing you’ve been putting off if it means you are taking steps to a more fulfilling life – take that joy. You really do deserve to have joy in your life. Don’t hold on to things that are holding you back from being a better you. You are becoming more you and I’m working very hard every day to become more me.
Love you guys! *hug*