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Just Make It Happen: The Worst Words a Manager Can Say Part II

In Part I of my Just Make It Happen series, I laid out the proposition that simply telling your staff to "just make it happen" was about the worst thing a manager could say to his or her staff.  I then put forth the proposition that the process to make something happen boils down to three steps: 1) You think a thing. 2) You plan a thing and 3). You do a thing.  In this article I will explore the second step: planning. 

Planning is where most great ideas die.  It is just as much art as it is science to be able to realize your thoughts.  There is one simple truth about planning: if you can visualize it, you can achieve it.  Best case scenario, you will have a well thought out plan before you attempt the "doing" but in the real world that doesn't always happen.  Sometimes there is a certain amount of figuring things out as you go but, of course, this is not ideal.  Regardless of when you achieve clarity in your vision, at some point, you do have to be clear about how you are going to get from point A to point B.   

Many people lack the patience to sit and think things through.  We are an action-oriented culture and the problem with thinking is that people can't see you doing it.  To hide their uncertainty or incompetence, leaders often times rush into action just so it looks like they are doing something.  This approach is fool hearty and rarely, if ever, gets to the root cause of the problem but merely treats the symptoms.  You probably recognize these individuals as the firefighters in your organization.  They run from one crisis to another, they are very quick to offer solutions and equate action with efficiency. 

People who actually get things done seem to possess the ability to visualize or they have someone on their team who fills that role.  It's important for you to realize if you are not a planner, that you need to fill this role with somebody else.  It's very rare that big picture people also possess the skills to do planning. 

The planning stage is where you see if your resources properly align with your vision. It usually doesn't, and here's where you have to make adjustments.  You have to consider the amount of time, money and people you have to devote to your plan.  You may have to narrow what can be realistically accomplished at this time.  After doing so, you have to make the decision is your plan still worth executing.  So many projects are started without a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish.  As reality starts to interact with your idea, things change.  If you're not clear about what's important, your idea will quickly morph into something you do not recognize. 

In order to maximize your chances of success, vocalize your ideas.  "Quick thinkers" never like to vocalize their ideas because it opens them up to scrutiny.  Great leaders love to vocalize because it's how they check their blind spots.  Sometimes when you're  to close to an idea, you can't objectively look at the weaknesses and potential risks.  One of the most important tasks is assessing the impact of your idea on others.  Often, our plans have unintended consequences on other stakeholders.  Your ideas are born in your head.  In your head, you have the answers to everyone question, you've addressed and mitigated every risk, you are on top of your game and crushing it.  Reality tends to not be as kind.  

Give the people who will be impacted by your idea a chance to weigh-in.  Be prepared to persuade others that there will be an overall net benefit.  While the process may seem chaotic and contentious, it's where raw ideas are forged into great ones.  Success is not an accident. As the only saying goes, "failing to plan is planning to fail". 

In my next article on this topic, I will discuss the last stage: doing. 


Son Nguyen
Title: CFO
Company: Private company
(CFO, Private company) |

You bring up very important point that there should be a time gap between thinking, planning and doing. I have observed that in a company where there is very little or almost no time to plan, chaos exist.

To be truly effective, we have to set time for planning (time to think through things), not just of the plan stage, but also at think & do stage. Otherwise, as you said, the idea may be just good in the head of the leader but very bad in reality.

On the other hand, it is bad to let the planning takes forever. There should be the balance in and between 3 stages and how long it takes for each will depend on a specific situation that we face and time we have and that is the challenge & criteria for great leadership.

Gregory Q. Jenkins
Title: President
Company: Quentasia Industries Incorporated
(President, Quentasia Industries Incorporated) |

I totally agree. There has to be a balance between planning and doing. Part III will talk about that. Thanks for reading and commenting.