We have all heard the age old 7 P’s about the effects proper planning has on your performance. While the phrase may be a bit brash, it is completely accurate. Poor planning is one of the top reasons most businesses fail.

The ability to properly plan and complete projects can be an extremely intricate, complicated skill; however, it is a skill that needs to be mastered in order to thrive in today’s business world.

Think back to a time where you saw the clear signs of poor planning in someone at your workplace. It is easy to spot someone who failed to prepare because they are usually flustered, fail or simply bring the entire team productivity down.

Your lack of planning can greatly affect your entire team and company. Take the following steps from Dale Carnegie to ensure that your performance is far from poor and cultivates successful results.

Step 1:  Put Everyone on the Same Page

Be sure that everyone involved knows what the project will entail and what the ultimate goal is.  The entire team should work together to ensure that the objectives and plan of action are agreed upon.

Step 2:  Be realistic

It helps to know what roadblocks may exist instead of blindly running into them down the road. Know what the current state of the situation is and what obstacles may stand in the way of completion. The sooner you recognize the issues the faster you can rectify them and move forward

Step 3:  Make SMART Goals

Define and set realistic goals to successfully carry out the scope of the project. When you don’t have goals to strive to reach it is easy to get off task. Set goals that range from immediate to long-range. Remember that long-term goals are simply a combination of the immediate goals positive end-results. Use the acronym “SMART” to help you and your team set appropriate goals. Every goal should be:

S              Specifically created with processes and resources clearly defined

M            Measurable by objective data

A             Attainable

R             Relevant to your vision

            Time-specific deadline

Step 4:  Create a Plan of Action

To achieve your goals, you must prioritize and organize so that you can create the appropriate steps to accomplishing these goals within the deadline.  Be sure to have answers to the following questions when creating a plan of action:

What are the specific requirements of the job?

Exactly what tasks need to be completed?

Who are the appropriate people to complete each task?

What methods or tool will need to be used?

How do the different parts all tie together?

How the results will be communicated? (Ie: a report, a PowerPoint presentation, etc.)

While planning to start a project may sound like a simple task at first glance, you should spend time creating a detailed plan to avoid potential disasters that can result in failed projects. Behind every successful project is a strategically mapped out plan that was properly executed.  A little bit of preparation can truly go a long way in the business world.

Check back soon for Part II with steps 5-8 to help you improve your project planning skills.

Piera Palazzolo

Piera Palazzolo

Piera Palazzolo of Dale Carnegie Training wants to contribute to the online conversation about leadership and business management with the blogging community. Dale Carnegie Training was founded in 1912 by one of America’s most influential speakers and leaders. Today the company continues to work with individuals and businesses to build leadership, public speaking, and management skills that result in success.
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