Template For Making A 2013 Plan

Last week we talked about the importance of reflection. It is a great tool for getting in tune with what you need to do in the future. However, inevitably we must move our focus forwards and leave the past behind us in order to be successful. It is time to start the planning stage and the key to great planning is in the details. Getting these details right can be a task, so I created a template (inspired from The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership) to help guide you.

I have found that the first step is to get your bearings. Try and establish the fundamentals of your plan. Here is how the template breaks down for this portion:

– What do you want in 2013?
– If _________ is what you want, then what are your priorities?
– If _________ are your priorities, what will you do?

Now that you have figured out the general direction behind your plan then it is time to start developing the different components necessary to get to your destination:

– Which of your strengths can you leverage?
– What will keep you motivated?
– How can you get the most from your time?
– Who do you need/want to support you?
– What do you need to learn?
– What mindset is needed?
– Where can you use a both/and approach instead of either/or?

Each of these aspects can determine the success or failure of your plan, so it is important to spend the appropriate amount of time considering them.

Going into any situation, it is always best to have a plan. It affords us the time to consider different possibilities and weigh the options for overcoming them. A good plan should be well thought out, and this template will help you systematically address some of the more important considerations. As 2013 is quickly approaching, it is time to get started. Have a Happy New Year.

Managing Cause For Effect

One of the major things that can create success in business is understanding that every cause has an effect and vice versa. Jamshid Gharajedaghi is an expert on “systems thinking,” which is the process of analyzing how systems function, specifically in social and biological systems. He says, “everything affects everything.” It is a deceptively simple statement. The real key is understanding how to apply it in a manner that can promote a healthy system for your business and personal life.

Knowing that everything affects everything, it is important to study what can be controlled, what cannot, and what is the desired result. Every system is subject to the environment that surrounds it. The environment is everything outside of the system that influences (either directly or indirectly) any part of the system. It cannot be controlled directly by the system and consists of things like politics, community, other people and even the weather. Understanding that the environment cannot be controlled is important, because this allows for plans to be made to compensate for it as much as possible.

Compensating for this relies on manipulating what can be controlled. There are two things that can be controlled: talent and process. Talent is the information and energy that is brought into the system. It consists of all the knowledge, skills, strengths, attributes, and disciplines you bring into the project. These can be personal talents, but in a team it is what everyone as a whole brings to the system. Selecting team members that bring different talents or developing them on your own makes a big difference in how a system works in its environment.

Processes are another thing that can be controlled. These are behaviors, action and choices developed to gain the desired result. They usually require practice and time to perfect. However, once they are thoroughly worked out, they can have a strong effect on the success of the system.

Managing all possible causes will help a system thrive in its environment. However, in order to understand how to manage them requires knowing the desired result. These results can be anything from quality, efficiency, and financial gains, to status, satisfaction and happiness. Our personal lives are just as much a system as our workplaces. Manipulating every cause that we can will help us get to our desired result in both arenas. There will certainly be rainy days, and stubborn people that we have no control over, but perfecting our system will make these obstacles overcomeable.

Gharajedaghi,Jamshid.Systems Thinking: Managing Chaos and Complexity: A Platform for Designing Business Architecture. Print.

Workplace Communication: Keep It Real

People are intrinsically built to disguise their emotions; it is human nature. However, this clouds communication and can create hindrances in the workplace. In order to be an effective communicator, it is advantageous to grab the shovel and dig out what is really going on. Doing so will give you the opportunity to find the source of the problem and work towards resolution.

Somewhere, at this very moment, thousands of employees are sitting at their desks thinking about how desperately they want to quit their jobs, even though they may not even be able to define the problem they are having. How can a resolution be reached in this type of situation?

Good employees are lost every day simply because of lack of communication. The truth is that it has to begin within ourselves. First, we must find that root feeling that is bothering us. It could be feelings of neglect, a lack of appreciation or disappointment. Identifying this root emotion is essential.

The next step is to communicate this feeling explicitly. Being honest and upfront is the most effective way to communicate your feelings successfully. However, this can be tricky and it will take practice and trust in order to let your guard down and say what is really going on. Yet, without this key point, the problem is unlikely to ever be fully resolved.

Below is a simple technique that you can put to use immediately. Instead of describing feelings as judgments (e.g. “I feel like you’re not listening to me,” “I feel like you’re too controlling”), rephrase your statements to accurately describe your feelings and nothing more (e.g. “I feel neglected,” “I feel fearful”). This simple technique practiced in the workplace (and in personal settings) can keep us from masking our feelings, placing blame and essentially avoiding to-the-point statements that clearly communicate the root issue.

Successful communication is a multi-faceted endeavor, in the workplace and beyond. It requires the participation of every member of the organization. One weak link, whether it be a disingenuous supervisor or a pent up employee, and the whole system can collapse. This is why it is important for everyone to do his or her part. When it comes to expressing emotion, be real. The results can help create a more open and forthcoming workplace.