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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", make things with enough time and 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." If you are running a whole team plan, you have to 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, that you are going to 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, silent 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, 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 also you can 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

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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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This class is under construction
From this point

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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:

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.

 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.

 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 start 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.

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 next 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.

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 exam in the previous example).

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

Related means that are dependencies established between the group of activities you are managing. For example, if I begin earlier the script for the videos, that will not affect the equipment set, so I won't be winning any extra time and maybe I might be taking the project out of its natural rhythm.

So be sure to win time, efficiency, or another significant benefit,  when you move forward or backward, any activity.

 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 "shopping", the stage name will be Stage #, Shopping.

This indicates that main attention will be paid to shopping during that stage, simplifying the road map in the mind of all the team. 

During event organization, I remember that a part of my team was always out of the office because they were buying something. Then, after we learned to name each stage, they started waiting for the "shopping time" to carry out almost all the "buying" activities, unless, of course, the things that can´t wait.

 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 also can quickly identify them by color depending on the "set criteria", so it is very easy to see what has to 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 your team. If you are running a company and have departments, make a list of the involved departments and let the manager of each area, choose the person, or group of persons that will be responsible for the task.

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 that will be in charge.

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.  

CONCLUSIONS