In my last blog, I talked about frustration with how things are going in your life, especially when running your own business.  I talked about the importance of being honest with yourself, stepping away when you need it, and making sure that you are sharing your story with others.  There are lots of ways to help and you can start by having a plan.

Action Plans vs. Strategic Plans

So many people use the terms “action plans” and “strategic plans” interchangeably.  While each can have aspects of the other, they are very different monsters and need to be approached different ways.  Both can help someone reach their goals, but their methods and timelines vary greatly and it is important that you understand which serves you as you need at the right time.

This blog is going to focus on action plans.  Action plans are short range visions that achieve your goals in a year or less.  They are generally focused on one outcome and one measureable outcome that gets you to that point.  For example, a Chamber of Commerce might set a goal for the next year to recruit 25 new members.  While this could be part of an overall long-term plan for growth and development outlined in their strategic plan, the measureable outcome has a short timeline and can be accomplished regardless of what might be outlined in another plan or even another part of the current action plan.

Action Plans Need Strong Teams

As with any enterprise, a strong team is going to make things go more smoothly.  Ideally, it’s a team who knows the challenges you are up against as well as knows the strengths and weaknesses of each team member.  To me, I always equate a strong action plan team with the A-Team.  Not only are they a group of charismatic individuals, but they understand what the goals are and what needs to be done.

The A-Team, aside from being a great show, is a great encapsulation of an action plan type of strategy that most people go through.  The team finds out there is a problem and they decide to tackle it.  They have some basic goals in mind and they work tirelessly to get to their objective.  By the end of their episode, the problem has been resolved.  They each have their roles to play and they work well together as a team because they know the strengths and weaknesses of each other.

Breaking Down the Team

Every team needs a strong leader, one that can see the big picture, but still understand all of the details necessary to create it.  Much like Hannibal Smith, this person understands how to motivate the team and is willing to get his/her hands dirty as well.  They know how to improvise when needed, but also makes sure that everyone understands the elements of the plan.

Every team needs the muscle as well.  This person needs to be the doer, willing to break his/her back to get the work done.  They need to be able to stand up to adversity and protect the team from distractions that might break apart the focus.  This person can seem stand-offish, but is very approachable when approached by those truly interested in helping.  Much like B.A. Baracus, this member is likely someone that wants to have a goal and work towards it, but relies on the other members of the team to help make the outcome a reality.

Every team needs their procurement person.  Much like Face, they need to be able to convince other stakeholders of the necessity of working with the team.  There needs to be that persuasive element and ability to relate to people, helping them understand the situation and how they can be a part of it.  While this can sometimes be seen as the most thankless of tasks, it’s necessary because not every team can function independently without some access to other people and other resources.

Finally, every team needs that crazy element.  Someone, like H.M Murdock, who dreams big and is willing to take a chance.  Is there something that might not seem like it can be accomplished or a little too out there?  Give it to this person on your team because they will either be a success or you will learn quickly that it’s not a realistic endeavor.  This person is essential to a team because they can help you test out alternate ideas and determine whether to move forward or to pivot to a different approach.

It may sound funny to break down something as serious as your business/organization/community to the characters in a TV show.  But often, art is influenced by real world people and scenarios and your team should be no different.  Yes, it might take you longer than an hour to meet your goals and solve your problems, but by focusing on the short-term wins and outcomes, your action plan can help make you and your team a great success.

Watch for My Next Blog!

This blog focused on action plans, how they differ from strategic plans, and the people/personality types necessary to carry them out.  The next blog will take the long view, focusing on the strategic planning process and how it can be done.

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