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How to make a plan

Organizing is as easy as telling everyone what to do, when, where, and how to do it. To achieve that, we make a plan.

A Plan Is

A list of forecasted activities to achieve a goal.

The success of a plan relays on the ability of the team to consider and manage "unpredictable variables" after planning predictable situations, and for this, you need to keep enough room to maneuver and take decisions.

Important aspects you have to consider before planning

A

The language of a plan

There is no such thing as a perfect plan.

Every initiative will have to deal with unpredictable situations through which, in the early stages of the project, alerts about greater later problems.

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Learn to read through your project, the natural order language 

windsurf

Sail through your plan

B

The Golden Rule: "Margin"

Keep always "room of maneuver," "margin," and make things with enough time; if you don't have enough time, have enough people and resources instead.

Have a backup restructure and plan B for critical aspects (not necessary to have a plan b for every part of the project, just for critical situations).

" The power of Organization relies on participation "

c

Be ready to adapt:

Knowing that things always will move in a different direction than expected, your structure must be ready to adapt.

In the following class, we will see the universal organizational structure called: Organizational Cell, which contains a specific area to deal with changes while the rest of the company remains focused. 

Image by Hal Gatewood

THE PLANNING EASY METHOD PEM ®

1º Step: Make an ACTIVITY LIST

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1

Write down how you imagine a normal day, your daily routine at your business:

The first step of a project is to clarify how you imagine a typical day of your project in an ideal scenario. 

a). Write an Activity List:

In chronological order, write down a list of the activities that the whole business will perform daily, the routine. You can start by saying, "I will, and de name of the activity." To run a whole team plan, you must make an "activity list" for every member. It looks like a heavy job, but it is not so hard, and it is necessary.

This is an example of an Online Education Business.

 

I will . . .

08:40 arrive at my office.

08:45 turn on my computer and the internet.

08:50 open de software platform.

08:55 allow my students to access the video class.

09:00 give my class.

10:00  finish my class.

10:05 take a 15 min coffee break.

10:20 start filming a video class.

12:00 take a 30 min lunch break.

12:30 continue filming the video class.

14:00 finish filming the video class.

14:01  take a 14 min break.

14:15  start writing new content for more classes.

16:00 start a meeting with the marketing team.

16:30 start a meeting with the alumni team.

17:00 go back home.

2. Make a RESOURCE LIST

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2

Ask yourself what are you going to need to carryout your daily activities

Using your activity list, write down the information, equipment, materials, persons, and resources you will need to do your daily activities.

You can say: To do this I will need...

ACTIVITY LIST

RESOURCE LIST

This is an example of an Online Education Business.

I will . . .

 

08:40 arrive at my office.

08:45 turn on my computer and the internet.

08:50 open de software platform.

08:55 allow my students to access the video-class.

09:00 give my class.

10:00  finish my class.

10:05  take a 15 min coffee break.

10:20  start filming a video class.

12:00  take a 30 min lunch break.

12:30  continue filming the video class.

14:00  finish filming the video class.

14:01   take a 14 min break.

14:15   start writing new content for more classes.

16:00  start a meeting with the marketing team.

16:30  start a meeting with the alumni team.

17:00  go back home.

To do this, I WILL NEED.

 

an office, and transportation.

Table, chair, computer, internet, electricity, quiet place.

Learning software.

Students.

Microphone, camera, academic program, contents.

Following method.

Coffee, coffee machine, cup.

Location, filming and sound equipment, technicians.

Table, chair, lunch, dishes, wash place, water.

Follow-up program.

Computer, table, chair, coffee or tea, tea machine, cup.

Marketing collaborators team, computers, internet, money.

Academic collaborators, computes, meeting room, table, chairs.

Transportation.

3. Make "SETS" 

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3

Make your own sets

To manage all the things you will have to do and bring to your project, you need to make "sets" of activities according to the nature of every need.

Do you remember when you learned to make sets at school?

Which of these things does not belong to the group bath set?

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Of course, the spaghetti, because you dont eat them at the bathroom

Following the online business example, we will make sets to group into them the activities and resources of our project.

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I. Let's start by making categories for our sets

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Set´s Categories

Infrastructure

Furniture 

Equipment

Services

Software

Marketing

Academic Structure

Contents

General Material

Human Resources

  • Don´t worry if you missed a category. Later you can add new ones or combine existing ones if you feel any is not justified due to a small number of activities.

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II. Organize your set:

Now you need to split the "Set Category List" into columns.

Infrastructure

Furniture 

Equipment

Services

Software

Academic Structure

Marketing

Contents

General Material

Human Resources

Infrastructure

Equipment

Services

Furniture 

Software

Academic Structure

Contents

Marketing

General Material

Human Resources

You can simplify your sets if you feel any categories might fit into another without confusing you and your team. Just be sure that the nature of the combinations is compatible.

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Equipment

Infrastructure

Services

Furniture 

General Material

Software

Academic Structure

Contents

Marketing

Human Resources

And we will call this:

Academic

And we will call this:

Infrastructure & Sevices, or I&S

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II. Assing Colors

Let´s add a "color box" to each set

I & S

Equipment

Software

Academic

Marketing

Human Resources

Now we have our simplified "Category Set" that will guide us through the planning process

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Look how far we have gone . . .

We evolve our project  . . .

From this

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To this

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Wooooo !

You can use this method every time you want

This is the way we get ideas organized.

So remember that whenever you want to organize your ideas

1. Establish your motives and goals (we studied this in the cover class). 

1. Imagine and Write down what is going to happen, say " I will . . . "

2. Write down what are you going to need to make it happen, say " I will need . . ."

3 Make Sets

I. Break your ideas and needs, into pieces.

II. Group them into sets according to the nature or behavior of each idea 

III. Organize and simply your sets. 

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4   Step: Prepare Your Canvas

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4

Let´s create our working space.

  • I. If you are using a computer:

You can use a customized PowerPoint (PC) or keynote (mac) horizontal, white spreadsheet. Standard size will be ok, but you can also customize it to fit a printable format such as a letter or legal size.

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  • II. If you are writing down your project, find a piece of paper.

You can either use a letter-size shit of paper or a larger format. If you have the chance and have a comfortable desk to work on,  try an architect plan size. 

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  • II).  Add The Name of your project and columns

    1. At the top,  add the name of your project.

    2. Rember to add the code of your projects to the right top corner of every document.

    3. Make a list of sets.

    4. Add a column for each "Set" of your project.

Important: Leave free the first left column.

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  • III).  Add colors to the box of each set.

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 5 Step: Select and Develop

5

Select any SET and develop a sequences of steps.

I.  Choose a Set

You can start with the set you prefer. However, we recommend picking the one that you think has more activities (longer sequence). 

Important:

Don´t develop more than one "Set" at a time.

A common mistake is trying to develop the whole project at the same time . . . "DON´T".

Each activity has to fulfill its own steps. Once you finish each set, you will be able to establish relations between steps, but first, do it independently.

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II. Use a box for each step.

If you are using a computer to create your plan, write the activity of the sequence in a box that you can later move.

If you are writing down your project, we recommend using "sticky notes" according to the color of the "Set".  By doing this you will be able to move them to suit the correct stage of the project.

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Sticky Notes

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use one for each step

Develop the sequence (zoom your screen to watch the detail)

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III.  Repeat:

Independently develop the rest of the sets, and distribute them along the columns of your canvas.

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 6 Step: Create the stages of your project

6

Creating the stages of your project is distributing activities along the time you have for doing your project. So de easiest way to start this step is to divide in equal durations the available period of time.

For example, if we have 5 weeks, we will draw a row for each week.

 

Note (remember to zoom your screen to see details) :

At this time don´t worry about the duration of each stage, we will adjust them forward as they might be activities that need more time than others to be accomplished.

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If you are using sticky notes and a cork on a wall, you can establish your stages using a ribbon.

It doesn´t matter if the ribbon or the lines finish above the sticky notes, we will order them.

 7 Step:  Organize activities (steps) along stages.

7

Let´s the party begin. After having done the rough work, let´s enjoy creating the plan. 

I. Organize Activities:

If you are using a computer, drag and drop the activities for every set into each project stage. Be careful to place the activities according to the set where they belong.

If you wrote down your activities using colored sticky notes, place them into each column, and stage, following the development order.

So we go from this . . . 

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We distribuite our activities among the stages.

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. . .  to this

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¡ Wait a minute !

We can´t make an academic program

before hiring the academic personnel. 

So we need to put this two steps in different stages.

Hmmmm ??!!! @# !!! ???

But we might not need to take one whole week to hire the academic so we can modify the duration of a stage, so we meet the conditions to keep te continuity of the project

Before:  1 stage = 1 week

Now: 1 stage = 1 condition

So now we have more than 5 stages, while we remain to have 5 weeks. 

This means that some stages will last less than a weeks.

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 8 Step:  Add Dates and Adjust Duration 

8

How to add dates:

Add Starting date and the ending date to each stage.

In the beginning, we said that a practical way to establish stages in our plan was dividing the available time into equal durations which can be months every two weeks, weekly or even days.  But this is only to establish a starting point, as it might be very strange to find a project in which all stages behave in the same way.

Following this criteria (equal time for each stage), add starting date, a duration, and an ending date.

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How to adjust duration of each stage:

Immediately after adding dates, you will find how realistic your plan is. You will need to adjust the duration of each stage "by compensation," which means that the time you add to a stage, you will take it from others, or "by addition", which means that you will have to move the "achieved goal date" in your "cover," also understood as the delivery day, or the day when the project becomes alive.

Before modifying the "achieved goal date," try to compensate for the duration of the stages by following the following technique.

1º Make "less thick" a stage. The only rule for placing a step before another is that whatever is needed to make it possible is done.

For example, video recording of the classes

can't start before the "production equipment" is ready. Still, the whole equipment might be installed and prepared, and we don't begin recording simply because we are waiting to reach the preplanned stage.

Sometimes when we are tight on time, and only when we are sure that previous related stages and or activities are completed (predecessors), we can move before or after some activities to make thinner a stage.

2º Add hands to those activities that allow it. For example, If the teacher has to check six exams and he spent 10 minutes on each one, he will take 1 hour to finish that task, but in another person comes to help, then the whole job will take half an hour, and so until a total of six-person help, then the entire task will only take 10 minutes.  

Adding hands will have a limit as it will have no difference after six persons helping because there are only six exams and it can't be more than one person for each.

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In our example:

We have taken time from stages 2, 3, 7 and 8 to give it to stage 1, 4, 5 and 6.  

Now, 4 days in stage 7, seems to be not enough to produce contents, nor 2 days in stage 8, to edit them (postproduction).  

In order de to keep the "Launch day Sept 21", we can add hands and multiply the postproduction teams, so we might have at least a few contents to start with.

If we are not able to hire more "postproduction teams", then we will need to move the launch day (by addition technique).

How to split activities to win time . . .

If an activity takes me one minute and I have to repeat it 60 times, then the whole activity will take me 60 minutes.

If someone come to help me, then I can divide the time two, so it will only take us 30 minutes, and so on. If I have 60 persons helping me, then the whole job will take only one minute . . . unless the activity have sequential and parallel flows.

In the following example I will use the case of making a "course" for may "online business".

A course can take me one whole week, but if I have only four days then I have to find three "teams" or "cells" that can help me make them in less time.

How ever there are things that only can be done at once or by one person due to his/her knowledge, equipment limitations, or other causes.

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To understand how to manage activities, you need to know that  there are two kinds of activities:

a. Sequenced: 

The previous step has to be finished before they start. 

A prior related activity we call:  "Predecessor."

b. Parallel: 

They can be made while others are made (as in the previous example).

So the trick is to make combinations between sequenced and parallel related activities.

Related means that dependencies are established between the group of activities you manage. For example, if I begin the script for the videos earlier, that will not affect the "produce contents" because we can only record one course at a time so I won't be winning any extra time. "However it might be a good idea to have ready all the scripts, "just in case" we can outsource the other two "production cabins" and find a professor to make the topic." What it is no doubt where we can win time up to the "launch line" in the postproduction processes. After editing the videos, we can upload them at the same time.

So be sure to win time efficiently.

 9 Step:  Name each stage

9

Now that the plan is organized, give a name to each stage, considering the "behavior" of the majority of the activities.

For example:

If most of the activities are related to "research" then the stage will be named "Research Stage".

Note: Remember that the name of a stage dosen´t means that all the activities are related to that condition, but the majority of them.

In a research stage, it can also be analyzing activities, or planning activities, even shopping activities.

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RESEARCH

In our example, we have 15 of 22 activities, related to "Research", which means that the first stage will be named "Research Stage" and will last one week, from August 16 to August 21. 

¿Why is this important?

Because this indicates that main attention will be paid to research activities during that stage, simplifying the road map in the mind of the coordinator and the rest of the team. 

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In this image, you can see how the "stage name" has been added according to the "dominant behavior" given by the majority of activities.

 10 Step:  Assign activities to specific persons

10

The last step is to assign responsibilities to your team.

At this stage, you have Sets of tasks distributed and organized along with the calendar.

You can also quickly identify them by color depending on the "set criteria," so it is effortless to see what must be done.

Assign the person or group of persons that will be in charge of doing each task:

I. Make a list of persons that will be on the project. For example, if you are running a company with departments, make a list of the involved departments and let the manager of each area choose the person or group of persons that will participate in the project.

II. Assign a color for each person or department.

III. Now, in your canvas, change the color of the letters according to the colors of the person or department in charge.

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III. Now, in your canvas, change the color of the letters according to the colors of the person or department in charge.

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By doing this, now everyone knows:

  • What they what to do.

  • When they have to do it.

  • Where they have to do it.

  • Remember that the "how", is the responsibility of every member, unless it is something related to the organization sequence.  

EVERYONE IS ORGANIZED

CONCLUSIONS

Most people don´t care about how plans are made or when do their activities came from, they only want to know what they have to do, when, and where and they want to be able to define the how since they are being hired accordingly with their skills unless the how is part of a company organizational culture.

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HERE IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN

  • FOCUS: According to our example, if you were in charge of the Operations Team (purple letters), in one look, you will know that during the first stage of the project you have 5 activities related to Equipment and I & S, and that will help you to get focused.

  • VISIBILITY: The leader of the project is the only person who has to take care of "the whole picture", about the whole project, but even to the rest of the members, this format gives visibility about what is already done, what is currently being done, and what will start on the following stages. 

  • RYTHM: By using this method everyone keeps the rhythm of the project, no one is left behind, nor anyone can move forward out of time.

  • INCONSISTENCIES AND TEAM BUILDING ACTITUDE: If something is missing, or there is something wrong with your project,  you and others will be able to find it.

  • MONITORING: By having a plan like this, everyone understands the impact of a delay on others' work. 

  • ADVANCED PLANNING: You can see where you will have critical conditions where you will need to place "cellular solutions"  working with sequential and parallel activities.

START MAKING A PLAN FOR ANYTHING YOU WANT

TODAY!