Yesterday was the beginning of the business year in Europe. I took the opportunity to work on some business things, including officially launching this website into the public domain.After a good few months work on it by myself, some valued friends as first reviewers and my talented faux son-in-law George who did most of the design work and all of the tech on it, it's out there on its own in the wild web world. Thanks for all your help, George.
Yesterday was also too hot for work on the house I'm renovating - nearly 40 degrees.
So, taking a day off renovation to work on business tasks was both apt and practical.
It also gave me time to reflect on renovation and how it relates to the work I do professionally, because there is no way in the world I can claim professionalism in renovation! I concluded that planning is relevant to renovation and renovation is relevant to planning. I'll explain.
Planning is essential to renovation. When renovating, you've got to sequence your jobs so that the whole job flows. Don't start painting until you've done all the construction (and especially deconstruction) work. Make sure that you have bought all the things you need for a certain sequence of jobs before you start them. It doesn't help to be running off to the hardware store (some 45 mins drive away) in the middle of doing a job. But most importantly, you need a clear, logical, achievable vision for your renovation project - before you start.
Equally, renovation provides lessons for planning.
One key to renovation is stripping back what you've got, what's already there, to see what's underneath. You need to do this carefully, not with a sledgehammer. Take the wall, roof, whatever apart bit by bit. Get to the skeleton of it. Keep the things that are sound and reusable. Only replace what really needs replacing. Don't rebuild unless you really have to; renew instead. And take time to understand how things work in your house and why they work that way. Then either replace them if they don't work for you or retain and respect them.
In essence, get back to basics before you build.
So, what are the basics of organisational and project planning? It's the three Cs:
Consultation. Certainty. Clarity.
In planning, it's wise to consult - in a meaningful way - broadly, deeply and frequently; at the beginning of a project (to scope, define and design the project), during (at key points of decision-making) and at the end (reporting back).
A planning project needs certainty and needs to produce certainty. Everyone involved or affected by the project needs to understand what the big picture goals are and - in broad terms - how they will be achieved and how everyone will know they've been achieved.
And the best way to achieve this is clarity - clarity in your communication with others about the project; clarity - for yourself - in how you are going about delivering the project; clarity in the outcomes of the project (the planning vision, values, goals, objectives, etc it produces).
This rule of three Cs should be applied to the Vision, Values and Goals of your planning project but be used sparingly beyond that - into objectives and tasks. Objectives and the action tasks associated with them need certainty and clarity but they also need flexibility, to respond to changing circumstances, new opportunities that arise, unforeseen challenges and difficulties, etc. Also, the HOW of what you do doesn't need consultation. It just needs to be compatible with the vision, values and goals derived from stakeholder consultation and with the organisation's culture (unless, of course, it's the organisation's culture you're trying to reform).
That's probably enough professional philosophising for now. The sun is up here and I can feel my toolbelt and little mallet calling. It's off to hardcore renovation. A bientôt.