Thursday, April 1, 2010

How to Keep Your Action Plan on Track (from HBR)

The real work is making things happen.

From Gill Corkindale, on Harvard Business Review
(this is a part of the whole contribution)

There is no easy way to say this — it requires hard work, application, patience, vision, foresight, self-belief, pragmatism, dogged determination (sometimes), flexibility (often), energy, and consistency. Staying power and the ability just to keep going are critical however many times you lapse or fall short of your plan.

One of the problems with working within an organisation is that collectively there could be more opposing forces than supporting forces. You might wish to make a personal change, such as being more open and transparent, but corporate cultures, power structures and politics could make this difficult. Or the organisation might be suffering from change fatigue, which could scupper new initiatives.

If you are in charge of a team action plan or are handling a company-wide change intitiative, try to devise a realistic plan: be aware of what you can reasonably achieve and what might be impossible. Then apply the same principles: identify supporting and opposing factors, then develop strategies to mitigate or deal with opposing factors.

Here are some thoughts about what individuals, teams, and organisations can do to keep their plans on track.


Keep a journal to hold yourself accountable to your plan. This might cover how you use your time, small steps you have taken, feedback from others, what worked and what didn't work, and changes you can see. Try to enter a few lines each day and review the journal each week for signs of progress or slippage.

Find a coach, mentor, manager, or buddy to support you in your action plan. Ask for help or advice in getting your plan back on track if it lapses. And don't forget to talk about your successes to keep motivated.


If you are managing a team — or you are part of a team — it's important to share the responsibility and accountability for the plan.

Ensure that notes are taken at meetings and distributed afterwards, appoint project managers and allocate key responsibilities.

Hold team members to real deadlines and schedule regular meetings to give updates and monitor progress

Tie individual accountability into appraisals

Regular team offsite days will help the team review the wider progress.


Ensure you have backing at the highest levels for change initiatives and appoint change champions across the organisation

Set aside time for top team offsite meetings to discuss strategy, assess progress, refine plans and change direction if necessary.

Remind people that day-to-day business must not marginalise or overwhelm change initiatives

Bring in external consultants and external stakeholders to provide new perspectives and energy when plans are flagging

Keep your plan alive and working for you as long as it serves you, whatever challenges the opposing forces may bring. The reward will be personal and organisational change, growth, and even transformation.

Source: How to Keep Your Action Plan on Track - Gill Corkindale - Harvard Business Review