01 June 2005

Planning By Negatives

Building upon yesterday's post, The Jenius presents a planning method that takes advantage of the pessimistic tendency most Puerto Ricans have, one that leads them to quickly find obstacles, but not solutions. As planning is a skill that is never taught in school (not directly), having a method that is easy to use and flexible goes far towards helping people focus more effectively and develop solutions.

Step One: Determine the goal or objective desired. (To clarify, The Jenius sees "goals" as strategic directions, for example, "Make my company the leader in its field," whereas "objectives" are more defined, for example, "Outsell Company B by 35% this year." Use any definition you feel comfortable with, but make sure you choose a goal or objective on which to plan.)

Step Two: Write down all the obstacles that keep you from achieving that goal or objective. You'll notice (if you are a pessimist) that these will come fast and furious. Write them all down: it's easy.

Step Three: Once the list is complete (or you simply run out of ideas for obstacles), place the obstacles in chronological order of when you would encounter them. For example, if your goal is to buy a new house by 2008, "Raise my/our income" would come before "Save $20,000 for down payment," unless you already have or are close to that amount in savings. This doesn't sound easy and it isn't, but planning is so valuable precisely because so few people do it and even fewer do it well. Just remind yourself that every step you take in this method will save you hours, days or even weeks of work down the road. (Pat yourself on the back!)

Step Four: Look at the list of obstacles, now in chronological order, and evaluate if it is a complete picture. Add obstacles that you may have overlooked or remove those that have suddenly become irrelevant. Rearrange the list until you have a clear path of obstacles from Point A (where you are now) to Point S... for Success.

Step Five: Circle the obstacle or AT MOST the two obstacles that if you overcome it or them, the rest of the list seems to shrink. In every plan there is always 1 or often 2 "sticking points" that absorb most of the time and effort needed to achieve Success. Figure out which ones they are and make them your targets for destruction or avoidance. And if you can't narrow it down to only 2, there's something wrong with your goal or objective. You may be trying to do too much at one time.

Step Six: Use the list to keep you on track of what you need to do next. Tackle the first obstacle, or the first set of obstacles (you can often group them) and get to work! Notice how confident you feel about the plan: it's real, it's realistic and it's really useful.

An hour invested in Planning With Negatives could lead to a whole new panorama for you, your company, industry or nation. And you don't have to stop being a pessimist to use it. Just stop being a pessimist when it comes to making good things happen. For that, the Plan is a Map to Success.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

1 comment:

Gabriel said...

Too busy for a full post...
Jill's method is in my opinion an effective synthesis of Eliyahu M. Goldratt's Theory of Constraints ( http://www.booksamillion.com/ncom/books?id=3175616601149&isbn=0884271153 )