5 Principles of Action Planning

Bryan Radtke, Vice President of Business Innovations at Rockfish, dedicated an entire blog to describing the five principles he’s been applying in making the most of every action planning and which can, in my opinion, improve anyone’s strategy for success:

1. Ensure your work plan enhances the work of those around you: This seems like a pretty obvious one, but sometimes Mr. Obvious is absent from our everyday thinking. When you develop your work plan, first list all the work you would like to do or you think you should do. On the second pass, put an X next to the work that directly affects your management’s priorities or your direct reports work plan. Chances are there are several items without Xs. Everything you do should enable or enhance the work of those connected to you. If not, drop it.

2. Get ALL key stakeholders aligned: I put the emphasis on ALL. If your job is anything like mine, chances are you don’t have just one “boss” or higher-up connected to your work. Take the time to ensure everyone is aligned and supportive of your focused priorities. It will save you a lot of headache in the end.

3. FOCUS on the Signature Work: Signature work is the work you can uniquely put your name to – your stamp on. These are the items that make up the foundation of your entire assignment and separate you from the pack. This is an absolute MUST and shouldn’t consist of more than 1-2 items. Think of a brand trying to communicate too many benefits. The brand most likely ends up standing for nothing to the consumer. The brand that effectively focuses on the 1-2 most consumer-relevant benefits and drives those relentlessly stands out for the consumer.

4. Action plans are often created and shelved away, never to be seen again – big mistake. If your action plan is to truly become your personal strategy document you need to reference it often. Here are two easy techniques:
Make it the first thing your review in the morning: As you plan your day, ensure everything you’re putting effort into ties back to your action plan. Make it your routine. Drop whatever you are doing that day.

Use it in 1:1s with Management: Make it your talk piece in your meetings with management, and provide updates based on the action plan. This also keeps your action plan top of mind with management.

5. Be Flexible but Smart: In a perfect world, your action plan would never have to change. But inevitably, due to new priorities or unforeseen circumstances, you will need to evolve your action plan. That’s fine. It is important to show you are adaptable and flexible to an ever-changing business environment. The key is to be smart with what you add or adjust, and to ensure you can truly deliver your action plan with excellence, especially your signature work. Just ensure your plan reflects this, and that you make the appropriate priority choices to make it happen.

However, in order to make these principles effective, there are a couple of other factors you should also take into consideration: networking, career training and self-promoting. While you can be working simultaneously on all of them, take it at a slow pace because it does take time to develop them, the best thing being that increasing one of the elements automatically helps the others evolve as well.