As the chair of Governors of a primary school in Doulting, Somerset, I attended a compulsory training session yesterday evening. The training session was on the subject of schools’ finance. Now, you may think that, with my background, this was trying to teach a grandmother, or more precisely a soon to be grandfather, to suck eggs. Well, as a person with, I hope, an open mindset, I believe that it is possible to learn something from every situation and, indeed, I did find out a lot about the processes and statutory requirements around schools’ finances (why do governments always try to reinvent the wheel when there are prefect systems in place that are used by corporate bodies all around the world?). However, in the course of the training I was reminded about some principles that are common to all organisations, whether they be schools or businesses or any other organisation: that is the continual cycle of planning, taking action, reviewing, considering and refining.
George Patton, the American general that led the US D Day landings in world war 2, stated that “A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan next week.” The key phrase here is violently executed. All too often plans are made but are not acted upon. Plans that sit on the shelf collecting dust are a waste of time, you might have well not bothered in the first place. Unless you take action your business will not be going anywhere. However, of equal importance is the review phase in the planning process. Unless you monitor the outcomes of your plan, you will not know if your plan is having the desired results and to carry on blindly following such a plan and actions, when they are not producing the results that you wanted to see is as stupid as not making a plan or taking action in the first place. You need to monitor your actions and outcomes on a regular basis and make the necessary refinements to keep the plan on track.
I personally produce what I call an “Action Plan” and I encourage my clients to do the same. This is a working document that is open on my computer at all times and which I review on at least a weekly basis. I therefore keep a track of deadlines and factor them into my daily task list or diary. This ensures that the plan gets implemented and equally ensures that I monitor outcomes. Thus, I ensure that I am achieving what I intended.
So, have you made your plans for the year? Have you taken action? And, perhaps more appropriately, do you monitor?