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.

The Power of Reflection: Getting Back In Tune

It’s getting close to the time of year when many of us start considering New Year’s resolutions and begin developing strategies for our next trip around the sun. Amidst all of this looking forward, an important part of this process is often overlooked: reflection. Taking the time to look back over the past year and analyzing it can help us make more successful resolutions for the future.

Reflection can only be effective when we look not only at the successes but also the failures. The human mind is geared to remember the good times, but being honest about past events provides our best opportunity for learning. To get the most out of this reflection exercise, we can start by breaking down the year month by month and ask ourselves the hard questions.

Remember, the past is in the past and a reflective exercise is not meant to beat us back into a corner. Taking a look back has to come with the understanding that it can’t be changed, only learned from. With that principle in mind, here are some questions to consider:

·      What were my achievements?
·      What were my failures?
·      What values did I honor?
·      What values did I neglect?
·      Where did I play small?
·      Where did I stand out?

Think of this process as being similar to tuning an instrument. Figuring out where we were too flat or too sharp in our 2012 approach allows us to make necessary corrections. Across stages worldwide, bands always make sure they are in tune before they begin the show. This same principle applies to us as we prepare to jump into our new year. Before we start, we can make valuable use of our time by making sure to reflect upon the previous year’s events and see where we can make appropriate adjustments. It is the perfect time of year for such an exercise; we can be honest with ourselves and take advantage of the opportunity to get ourselves in tune.

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.