OK - Planning is initially a giant pain. Then you get better at it and really like it. Planning is important, as in most things, you want to do will involve others and having those others aware of your plan up front saves a lot of time and is a simple step to underwrite having a successful outcome to small or large activities. Most important it defines the SIX W's shown in the illustration that you must know for a good plan.
We actually do more planning than we realize.
Planning can be as simple as this plan for getting groceries to building an 87 story
building that meets Federal Security Standards, Building Codes, changing needs for
some of the tenants, building permits, labor disputes, FAA approval for not being
an impediment to safe air travel, sufficient water, electric and sewer provisions,
required plants in and around the building, surface and sub street level drainage,
etc., etc., etc.
Eventually most of us have to go to a grocery store to buy food as we can't keep
eating out every day for every meal for a number of reasons. So what are the
steps you need to plan for a trip? Let's walk through this process.
TIMELINE ITEMS How much time is going to be consumed to do this?
1. Trying to find the Grocery List - find better spot for it
2. Grocery list contingency plan: milk, eggs, poultry, meat
2. Checking for missed items on Grocery List
4. Will the store(s) be open when I get there?
5. Bring the Grocery list (or contingency list) on trip
6. Determine if this is a one stop or multiple stops trip
7. Projected total time required for all grocery activities
8. Contingency plan for car not starting during journey
9. Verify acceptable means to pay for groceries
10. Start the journey
11. Park car in safe location near store
12. Bring items required into the store
13. Get a grocery cart or carry basket if needed
14. Begin process of locating needed items for this location
15. Verify each item acquired at lowest cost provider*
16. Verify all items made it into the grocery bag(s)
17. Obtain register receipt and payment receipt just in case
18. Load bags into grocery cart for transfer to car
19. Transport items from store to car with care
20. Safely transfer bags from cart to car to avoid damage
21. Place cart out of the way of MY car when backing up
22. Begin travel as required to next itinerary location
23. Repeat current steps 9 through 19 until all items acquired
24. Arrive at final destination (home)
25. Remove all grocery bags to needed location in home
26. Unpack bag contents into appropriate storage locations
27. Place grocery bags for future alternate use or recycling
26. Place receipt for entry into expenses journal
27. End of Project / Project Closeout
28. Start of Celebration
Why all this? The purpose is to provide at a reasonable level all of the steps
or tasks required to just go get groceries and the places where
something could go wrong and what you can do about it if it
were to happen ... a contingency plan. Yet this planning gives
us smaller tasks to deal with which often allows for smarter
time planning, less risk of forgetting something, and less of a
delay should a contingency be required (like car runs out of
When to use? Hopefully you do not require this level of planning for weekly
groceries but it is something we can all relate to and visualize
thus a good learning exercise. But if this were a new trip in a
new city you will face unfamiliar challenges like: what is there
a grocery store, how do I get there, how far away is it, will I
be safe there, are the prices at least competitive, will they have
the items and/or brands I can trust, etc., etc.
What if it's bigger? Post-it Notes are great for real world projects by organizing the tasks or steps required to achieve the desired outcome.
Write a simple task on one Post-It Note and place it on a large
flat surface like a wall. Add more notes to provide greater
detail horizontally for the major areas (selecting groceries,
assessing value vs. price, checking out, making payment, etc.)
and use vertically oriented Post-It Notes to reflect activities required for the larger activity or task. Always think about how
you move from one Post-It Note to the next vertical note to
identify plan gaps and fill them by reordering the notes.
You can quickly identify any gaps and resolve them thus you
have a better knowledge foundation for the work ahead of you
and your team.
This approach can be applied to nearly any situation due to
the flexibility of the process and simple way to create the
visual plan for steps.
ASSIGNMENT: Take an activity you are familiar with and see if you can list
the different activities or tasks required plus provisions for
things that may not go or be as hoped. Learning is about
doing and this is a safe comfortable means to achieve that