Friday, July 24, 2015

Leadership Development: Planning

This post is part of a series on leadership development.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently participating in a Leadership Development Program (LDP) as part of my work at Franklin University. This week, I attended a presentation by Rick Sunderman, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Franklin University. He talked about how to plan effectively as a leader. He first spoke about the big picture approach to planning: Strategic Planning.

Strategic Planning 
All models for strategic planning seem to have similar components, and strategic planning is typically a top-down endeavor. You starts with the big picture of what you want to accomplish as an organization and break it down into smaller pieces until you have operational tactics. The point is to make it granular and focused so that you can take specific actions that you can do and measure. These specific actions should all feed back up to the big picture mission and initiatives outlined in the strategic plan.

Franklin University has a strategic plan that we have developed and revisited several times in the last 6 years. It was approached very systematically and included dozens of participants. I thought it was interesting to hear Rick report that we are 41 percent done with our strategic plan - the leadership of the university are continually meeting and revisiting out plan, to the point that they know exactly where we stand and what else needs to be implemented.
Here is the general sequence when creating your strategic plan:
  1. Clarify your Mission.
  2. Create Institutional Goals based on your mission. 
  3. Develop Major Strategies for reaching those goals.
  4. Undertake multiple Strategic Initiatives within each major strategy.
  5. Develop Supporting Strategies to support those initiatives.
  6. Employ Operational Tactics to fulfill those supporting strategies. 
If done correctly, this is a multi-year, involved approach to planning. Furthermore, you should be willing to adjust and revise your plan regularly to adapt to the volatile changes experienced in the environment. It is critical that you divide and conquer. Enable people to focus on their own aspect, and coordinate efforts.

Rick noted that research indicates that up to 90% of strategic plans fail due to lack of execution. This is critical - the implementation and execution of a plan is the most vital piece. It appears that Franklin University has done well at following our strategic plan, which is encouraging.

Project Planning and Scheduling
Effective project planning enables you to implement specific components of the strategic plan. project planning typically includes the following major steps:

  • Define to Scope - what are you trying to accomplish? Who is involved and has a stake in the outcome? What is the budget? What are the goals of the project? What artifacts of products will you create? This is what we call an analysis in the instructional design world - establishments of gaps and goals.
  • Design - This is the phase in which you plan everything that is needed for the effective completion of the project. How it will the completed project look? How will it achieve the goals and close the gaps you have already identified?.
  • Roles and Responsibilities - Be sure to establish what all participants are responsible for. Who will do which part? How will each part be accomplished? Who receives reports and tracks progress? 
  • Schedule - create a specific and clear schedule of how each step of the project will be created. Be aware of the steps that are contingent upon the completion of a previous step and plan the steps in the proper sequence.
  • Communication Plan - Develop a system for communication progress regularly to the project manager. This reporting should happen regularly to keep the project on schedule. Rick's rule of thumb is that he becomes concerned when a projects is off by 80 hours (2 weeks). 
Project scheduling
A critical component of successfully complete a project is project scheduling. Major aspects of scheduling include:
  • Identify project phases - what are the big milestones or steps for the project?
  • Identify key activities - what must be done to complete each of the phases?
  • Identify tasks - what specific tasks will facilitate accomplishment of each activity?
  • Assign tasks - who will do each of the tasks?
  • Identify dependencies and sequence - what tasks need to be done first? what is dependent on the completion of previous tasks?
A good manager works to know the details of the project that his employees are working on. The work you do up front in the analysis should be pretty detailed and comprehensive so that there is a solid grasp of what will be required. A good manager also follows up on employees' projects regularly, provides support, and removes obstacles wherever possible. 

30 Seconds of Reflection
We have been doing 30 seconds of reflection at the end of each leadership session. Here is what I wrote for this one: It's all in completing the project. You must deliver on the project - your team must produce the results required. I'll now be working with the instructional design faculty members as their department chair, and I will need to be as effective as possible in my support to them. I am blessed to be working with EXCELLENT faculty members in i4, and I look forward to working closely with them over the coming months.

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