If successful leaders manage things and lead people and never confuse the two, then it’s absolutely critical that leaders effectively manage the resources entrusted to their stewardship. At the core of good management is planning. This is why at SpringHill we like to remind ourselves to “plan your work then work your plan”.
Plan Your Work:
So what does planning your work look like? It always starts at the highest level (answering the 6 Key Questions) then works down to the actual steps and tasks necessary to accomplish a goal, project or a dream. At SpringHill after we’ve affirmed the answers to the 6 Key Questions we build a 3 year plan (that’s updated annually). We followed the 3 year plan with a 1 year, seasonal (quarterly), monthly and weekly goals and plans which have ever-increasing detail.
For individual planning, whether it’s work or personal, it can and should follow the same logic of breaking down long-term goals into annual, seasonal, monthly, weekly and even daily tasks and goals. For work plans we encourage our staff to align their plans and goals with the plans and goals of their team and the organization.
Work Your Plan:
However we always need to remember that the only reason to plan is to accomplish a goal or dream. So it’s absolutely critical to break down goals and plans into actionable steps so we can answer the question “what’s important right now?” When we answer this question then we’re ready to work our plan so it becomes a reality.
I also like to remind to myself and our team that we should spend most of our time working our plan. Because, at the end of the day, we’re not interested in being good at just dreaming big (anyone can do that), but being good at making big dreams a reality.
Having lofty goals and big visions is important. But they’re nothing more than words unless an organization takes intentional and thoughtful steps to make them reality. And it’s in taking tangible, day-to-day action that separates ineffective from effective organizations.
So there are two additional questions an organization needs to answer if it’s going to make its dreams come true. The first question is “what do we have to do to be successful?” and the second question is “what’s important right now?”
The first question drives an organization to determine the key long-term actions necessary to reach their targets and move towards their BHAGG and Vision. At SpringHill we call these long-term actions (actions that takes more than a year to implement) our “Big Moves”. They’re strategic in nature and typically center on major initiatives and shifts within our organization or the ministry we do that will help propel us forward.
The second question, “what’s important right now?” drives those Big Moves into our daily work. We call these our Annual Moves (to be completed within a year) and our Seasonal Moves (to be completed within the next four months). Annual and Seasonal Moves are tactical in nature. They’re the work that needs to be done “right now” and should align with our Big Moves.
We spell out our Big, Annual and Seasonal Moves with as much definition as possible, including having defined beginnings and endings. Then we review their progress every week so that they become things we do and accomplish not just grandiose words or ideas.
Now I’ll admit implementing tactics isn’t as sexy as developing strategy and vision. But the truth is it’s in this day-to-day work that Visions and BHAGG’s become a reality. It’s what “handsome does.”
This is part 5 of 6 in a series of posts about the questions every organization needs to answer to achieve their vision.
We’re enamored with strategic thinking and vision casting. Most leaders want to be seen as strategic and visionary thinkers who cruise around at 30,000 feet. We value this skill set so much that we make heroes out of these same leaders.
But I’m convinced that being just a visionary leader isn’t nearly enough. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not minimizing the importance of these skills – creating strategy and vision need to be a part of any leaders work. Too often, though, leaders spend too much energy on vision and strategy and too little energy on tactics and execution.
We often look down on tactical work and the execution of strategy because we misread people like Steve Jobs and credit Apple’s success to his vision and strategic thinking.
But if you’ve read any of the 100’s of recent articles and blogs about Jobs after the announcement of his retirement as CEO you see a different picture. What you find is a leader who spent much of his time in the “trenches” working on the details of new products – in other words doing the tactical work. This is what made Jobs truly visionary. It was his willingness to do the hard, everyday work required to assure that his vision and strategy succeeded.
So as a leader my goal’s to spend only a small percentage of my time on vision while spending most of my time working side by side with our staff, board, supporters and volunteers in the hard work of making our vision reality. Because at the end of my time at SpringHill, if anything’s written about me, I want it to be said, not that I was just a visionary, but that I led an organization that turned its vision into a world transforming reality.
For over twenty years Michael Perry has made it his mission to bring young people closer to Christ through his Bible study publications, his capacity as the President and CEO of SpringHill, and his recent book, Experience = Everything. Over the last fifty years, SpringHill has changed over half a million lives—proving that it is more than just camp, or a place, SpringHill is a transformative experience.