Readers of this blog will know I'm quite a fan of David Allen, the productivity/organisation guru, and his 'Getting Things Done' (GTD) process. See Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity. Following on from yesterday's post, I wrote about the tension between the strategic and the tactical, a tension required to be held by operational managers leading their teams through change.
Well, in his GTD system Allen strongly advocates gaining clarity on two things:
1. the project outcome you want; and
2. the next step - the next practical action you can take which should be less than 20 minutes to do.
In between? No project plan. For personal projects, just being clear on the next step gives you the momentum you need to move you closer to realising that outcome. You can intuit the plan as you proceed.
In a recent work(Making it All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life), David Allen discussed which, if one had to chose, would be more important in personal effectiveness, the desired project outcome or the next step. His advice surprised me: the next step ... every time.
I've reflected much on this since. Clearly it is better to do both. But most coaching in change through programmes and projects - including my own - has been guilty of stressing the the planning and neglecting the execution. Ultimately its all in the execution. The graveyard of projects is full of fabulously sophisticated plans where everything fell short in the doing of it.
More and more I am compelled to help clients in the focus on, and the practice of, execution. In our training, for example, more and more now we are challenging delegates to define and commit their 'next steps' following training. And when we follow up, the results are encouraging.