It is important not to assume anything but to continually check each angle. Every team member needs to know what is expected of him by what date and for what reason. Clear expectations will lead to achieved goals. Perhaps each team member might choose a specific color of paper and write their specific duties on it. Then, when looking over the picture-line, they simply have to look for their colored sheet to see what their next duties are.
Here’s the key: if your name is on too many pieces of paper, your venture will likely fall apart. You can’t do everything and a good business shouldn’t rely upon just you. I’ve created a picture-line for a business, saw my name on most of the pages and immediately recognized the weakness of my plan. I knew I had to find help or I shouldn’t proceed.
Planning Tool #2: Picture Lines
An action plan can best be described in terms of picture lines. One of the key ingredients to achieving success is to closely follow a well-constructed plan. Often, people stop short of the necessary steps and don’t bother to put in the mental energy required to plan their moves in detail.
Do you like to play chess? How many moves do you usually think ahead? Like an amateur playing a game of chess, many people face the board and give barely a thought to their next move. The game sweeps them along, their moves are reactive instead of proactive, and ultimately they are defeated.
How much better it is to invest some time to think carefully through the moves you want to make before the game begins. When written down, the details of your plan can be remembered and followed, and success becomes more of a certainty.
Often, people with a plan will create a general timeline in their heads and move from point to point in what seems to them a logical progression. However, the usual outcome is an unspecific goal and an unclear plan.
I use something that I call picture-lines. Everyday cartoons are examples of a picture-line. (You can also see this cartoon video on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y_btqjoz7I – second half of the video).
Start a Self-Funding Organization That Will End Hunger in One New City Per Year
A series of pictures tells a story of whatever the writer wants to communicate. The same idea should be used for any business venture that you put your mind to.
Buy some poster size paper so your ideas can be written in large letters that are visible from any distance in the room. On one of the sheets of paper, write your ultimate goal. This is your final destination and should ever be before your eyes.
A study of the graduates of one Harvard University class 30 years later found the following: 80% had no specific goals, 15% had ones they only thought about, 5% had written goals with deadlines. The 5%, measured by net assets, had not only surpassed their goals they wrote down for themselves but, as a group, had more net worth than the other 95% combined. That’s impressive! So write down your goals.
The goal must be specific and clearly measurable. Then, to the side of the final paper, arrange a line of papers that look like the following (Excuse my simple graphics, but I just want you to get the point):
Each paper is going to give only the general idea or goal of what needs to happen. However, each paper signifies a major event that will, in itself, require many minor steps. Around each of my major papers, I place smaller-size paper on which we can detail the specific steps to accomplish what needs to be done in the larger picture.
The inside poster paper is the general goal. The outside 8 pages (or however many you need) are all the details of what it will take to accomplish the inner goal. Details must be specific and will answer all the important questions:
• Who will do each task?
• By what date will each be accomplished?
• How is their success measured?
• What reward will they obtain if they reach their goal?
• What are the consequences if they don’t reach their goal?