wHY DO I NEED A PLAN ON A PAGE?

by Tim Hynes

2PM Services’ Senior Consultant, Tim Hynes, explains the power of a Plan on a Page (PoP) for business and teams.

“There are always more good ideas than capacity to execute” [1]


Do you love strategic plans or loathe them? Maybe you see a lot of value in having a plan but your experience of seeing them executed leaves you flat?

Leaders are constantly tempted to include more in their strategic plans rather than less.

And it makes sense. As a leader, you want to achieve goals and make things better than last year, often across a lot of areas. At the end of your strategic planning process, you might land on a dozen or more important, must do, good ideas as a target for the next 2-3 years.

It’s likely that you might have put a lot of effort into crunching the data, gathering input, and scanning the horizon to decide on your strategic direction.

Other leaders and staff might be nodding their heads in agreement with having a big list of strategic targets to tackle.

How often does your strategic plan get executed?

Prior to writing their book ‘4 Disciplines of Execution’, the Franklin Covey Institute gathered many case studies and examples of organisations they had worked with. In almost all instances, the same phenomenon existed. Organisations that set fewer goals were more likely to achieve them. Set too many goals and the results are stark.

Multi-tasking research already tells us that if we overload the processing capacity of the brain, by juggling two or more complex tasks, we lose performance and focus.

Here is a fun little exercise to demonstrate. Time yourself speaking the letters A to J out loud in the correct order. Do the same with the numbers 1 to 10 and record your time. Add both times together to get a total overall time. Now time yourself while you combine letters and numbers together in the correct order e.g. A1, B2, C3.

Notice a difference?

Translate this to a bucket load of goals all competing for attention at the same time and you can see why execution suffers.

Remember the whirlwind


As leaders we often forget that the day to day of running of teams, organisations and operations consumes a lot of time. The tyranny of the urgent in our whirlwind activities will trump a strategic project or improvement initiative. As you get closer to the service delivery, front-line or customer facing teams, it becomes more apparent how much time the whirlwind consumes.

It wouldn’t be a surprise or unexpected that staff are spending 80 to 90 percent of their time on day-to-day business. You need that level of effort to keep things running. So, if capacity for new things is limited to 10 to 20 percent, you want to maximise that.

Plan on a Page


One of the tools we love using with leaders and teams is the Plan on a Page process.

When you need to drive focus across your teams, a simple one-page plan brings clarity. Name up your goal, define your change projects and group your day-to-day activities. Importantly, don’t forget to define your ‘not yet’ goals and projects. Most leaders find this step counter-intuitive and painful, yet it is the most powerful. Remember, the more attention you split across multiple goals or projects, the more likely you are to fall short.

We have consultants ready to help you, just reach out.

[1] (McChesney, C, Covey, S and Huling, J (2012) The 4 Disciplines of Execution, Simon & Schuster Inc., New York)