Key Learning Outcomes

  • Learn how to avoid the trap of having so many things to do that nothing gets done.
  • Create an action plan to enhance your ability to implement new ideas and strategies.
  • Implement three key ideas every 30 days to ensure that you and your business are always moving forward.
  • Develop habits that will see you turning thoughts into action every day.

Article

“Actions speak louder than words but not nearly as often” – Mark Twain

Have you ever left a meeting or training session feeling invigorated by all the great ideas that were spoken about, only to be disappointed down the track that nothing was ever implemented? Don’t worry, you are not on your own. The intention to take action is there, but day-to-day business and activities simply get in the way.

Having a great business plan or listening to an inspiring speaker will always have benefits, but the key to getting the most out of these or any other sessions that generate ideas is to turn the ideas into action. An action plan is a simple way of ensuring that the ideas you implement lead to immediate improvements.

An action plan outlines the steps required to complete a task or project, implement an idea or what is needed to achieve a goal. They are often the outcome of bigger picture planning such as annual business planning. Action plans can be set for any time frame although we find that if you operate with a 30-day action plan, it is more likely you will implement and move ideas forward and see instant results.

If you have a lot of ideas or a large project to get off the ground, it can often seem so overwhelming that it is hard to get started. The key to moving forward is to pick two or three key ideas to implement first, or to break down a larger project into manageable pieces.

Let’s take attending an industry seminar as an example. Many business owners invest a considerable amount of time and money looking for new ideas or ways to improve their business. Usually they will leave a seminar with loads of notes from a variety of speakers and a great deal of enthusiasm.  For a few days or even weeks they will speak excitedly to everyone at work about all the ideas, but will not manage to move many of them forward. We recommend you take the following steps, based on the above example, to develop an action plan that will vastly increase the chances of the ideas being successfully implemented.[wlm_ismember]

Step 1: Identify the key ideas

Step 2: Prioritise the list

You might think that selecting just a few of the ideas is not very ambitious when there are 20 good ideas on your list. The key is in the implementation. Imagine at the end of just 30 days after you have implemented your top three ideas. Not only will you be tracking well compared to your fellow seminar delegates whose ideas are now sitting in a draw or in a pile of papers, you will also have increased the value of attending the seminar.

Step 3: Determine the actions

For each of the key ideas, document the steps and actions that you need to take in order to implement them. It is important to keep each action or task clear and concise. They should be listed in the order that they need to be done. It is also important to include deadlines on your action plan so that you can easily see if you are on track to complete the project on time.

If you are working on a 30-day action plan you might break the deadlines into weeks 1 to 4, or if you have created a plan for a specific project then you can include your estimated completion dates. It is important to remember that it does not matter if the idea or project takes longer than 30 days; we just want to see some progress in the 30-day time frame. Also, identify any resources that are required to get the job done.

Step 4: Accountability

Another key to a successful action plan is for one person to take responsibility and ownership for each idea or project regardless of how many people are involved in the process. The “owner” may need to call on others for help, but ultimately they are responsible for the outcome of the idea or project. This is particularly important if you are implementing ideas in a group situation.

Step 5: Review and refine

Review your progress both during and at the conclusion of the project time frame. It’s fantastic news if the idea is implemented or the project is completed. It is now time to move onto the next top priority. However, if you have not completed all of the steps in the action plan, you need to look at why.

Are you still waiting on some information or for someone to complete a task or action? If so, were you clear about your expectations and was your communication thorough enough? Or are they the wrong person for the task? Speak to the person immediately in order to get things back on track or find someone else to assist you.

Or perhaps you were too ambitious with the time frame and deadlines. This is not unusual, and is fine so long as some progress has been made. Review the deadlines for the next 30 days and make sure you clearly communicate these expectations to any members of your project team.

Have you hit a roadblock? You need to be on the lookout for issues that can hold up successful implementation of an idea or completion of a project. Too often we see a good idea get held up for some reason and then over time it is forgotten. You need to determine what is causing the hold-up and look for a solution or alternative. Can the idea still be moved forward in a modified way?

The key to a successful action plan is just that, ACTION! The action alone of writing your plan will greatly increase your chances of implementation, but the key is to be consistent in your review of progress during implementation. The faster you recognise that the project is coming off the tracks, the faster you can rectify the situation to ensure momentum is maintained. We think Elvis says it best with his hit song “A little less conversation and a little more action please”.[/wlm_ismember]

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