Where Planning Ends and Projects Begin

Where PLANNING ends and PROJECTS begin is where MANAGING well follows up on the work you have already put into LEADING well.

Let’s use our October Ho‘ohana of Sweet Closure to review some relevant past postings done here, bringing everything together in the blood and guts of how you are managing right now, today. I write this blog to help you set work in motion in fresh ways: My goal is to help you, the Alaka‘i manager, create (lead) and foster (manage) highly productive workplace energies.

Reading about it is not enough: Let’s do it.

Today's Tipsheet

In our Say “Alaka‘i” Language of Intention, we say that managers will both manage and lead in the workplace, tackling those words as active verbs:

Leadership is Why and When
Management is What and How
(those links will help you review those distinctions if you’ve missed that discussion)

As you work on your October Ho‘ohana of Sweet Closure, this lead versus manage distinction is one you can apply to planning versus project work.

  • Think of ‘planning’ as setting a leadership vision which answers those why and when questions with clear decisions. It creates a job to be done, a job which is very well defined and compelling: The better your decisions, the higher the level of confidence you have throughout the workplace. In the best possible scenario there is an “‘it’ factor” to this plan: It’s attractive and highly desirable. Everyone wants to be a part of it. It’s known as mission-critical, and the important one.
  • Think of ‘project execution’ as getting that job done one logical piece (i.e. one project) at a time. However the logic does not dim the “‘it’ factor” at all: It just makes it highly achievable in the shortest possible time frame. The longer and more drawn out a project is, the greater your chances of losing momentum. Alaka‘i managers go for quick wins, and they get them to be progressive and successive, where one win follows another in perpetual motion.

What great managers do, is get their people engaged in those projects in the best possible way because those projects are the most timely and meaningful ones. As an Alaka‘i manager, you are setting well thought-out plans into motion throughout the organizational culture, (everyone has some touch point) and the sooner the better.

We should be in this shift by now!

Wrap up any planning you are doing for Sweet Closure and get into project mode! This is a short-term project and we want to get things done. If you are with me in using the holidays as our “put up your feet and enjoy the holidays” goal, it is time to reckon with GEMO (Good Enough, Move On) and get moving.

As we move on with our October Ho‘ohana for Sweet Closure, look back at the planning you have done, and be sure you have this clarity, wherein

  1. “The Plan” you design answers Why and When. It clearly states the key decisions you have made so that anyone you enroll in its objectives can refer to “The Plan” anytime they get immersed in the work itself and feel they need a landmark to refer back to that will keep them on course versus wandering down a rabbit trail. Once project work starts, “The Plan” acts as an expectation filter so projects don’t get cluttered up with irrelevant complexity. The better your plan, the lighter and more nimble your project work.
  2. “The Project” you design is about What components you have chosen, and How you get “The Plan” done: Ideas get practical. Set mile-markers, deadlines, and a final deliverable. The talk-story huddles you will have in the workplace should be dedicated to “The Project” with everything else taking a secondary place on the agenda: Use them to reach agreements on individual work versus teamwork currently in-process so that work keeps moving and does not stall. Alaka‘i managers are always on the lookout for obstacles, barriers, and excuses, and they get them out of the way.

Here are two resources you can use as checklists for “The Project” you come up with in your October Ho‘ohana of Sweet Closure:

1. If you have a copy of Managing with Aloha, review The Lōkahi Challenge for Managers which begins on page 107.

2. Here in the Talking Story Archives: Start a Wow! Project at Work. The post has been newly updated with fresh content, and so most embedded links go forward to newer articles which are recent to our current discussions. I have re-opened the comments for any questions which might come up for you.

My mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
Each Thursday I write a management posting for Say “Alaka‘i” at Hawai‘i’s newspaper The Honolulu Advertiser. The edition here on Talking Story is revised with internally directed links, and I can take a few more editorial liberties. Recently my posting here has been very directed and sequential: I am working on my October Ho‘ohana of Sweet Closure along with you. If you are just joining us and would like to read them in order, this article would be number 5 on this list:

  1. Is it Time for Your Alaka‘i Abundance?
  2. October’s Ho‘ohana: Sweet Closure
  3. The Ho‘ohana Story of Your Year
  4. A Copy of the Best is Still a Copy

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