Friday, March 10, 2006

Action Plans for cnsistent results?

Can Action Plans really guarantee' consistent
results in your business?

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Many (most?) companies don't use proven Action
Plans. Further, companies seldom have Operations
Manuals with formal Action Plans - except for
successful franchises. (I have referred to Action
Plans in previous PVTs 2, 14, 15, 21, 23, and

What are Action Plans? Action Plans are the main
documents of the SYSTEMS section of your
Operations Manuals (see PVT 15).

Let me say again:

Great businesses depend on systems, not people.
That's because you can duplicate systems, but not
people. If your business can't duplicate salable
results, it won't survive. Duplication is
Nature's Law of Survival.

If your organization lacks Operations Manuals
(with Action Plans), its growth and success will
be limited due to lack of a duplicable system.

Will you make a commitment to extraordinary

Your management team should make a commitment to
develop Operations Manuals and formal Action
Plans. Why?

Extraordinary people don't build great

Ordinary people build great businesses by
producing extraordinary results using a
duplicable system. The faster you develop
functional Operations Manuals (with Action Plans)
the faster you will have a duplicable system.

Why do people resist creating Action Plans?

Here are some popular excuses and attitudes for
not getting organized and writing Action Plans.

* "We just don't have enough time!"
* "It's not my job man! You hired me to be
[manager, programmer, accountant, engineer,
whatever]. I'm not a writer!"
* "I hate to write. Who needs it!"
* "Whenever I feel like writing, I lie down
until the feeling goes away."
* "It's different Things change too
fast. The minute we write something down, it's

These are typical objections ... But, one of the
most UNEXPRESSED fears is:

"If I document my job in Action Plans, I can
be replaced! I'll l0se my job!"

No wonder so few organizations have Action Plans!

"When I was a y0ung man, I observed that
nine out of ten things I did were failures.
I didn't want to be a failure, so I did ten
Times more work."
-- George Bernard Shaw

There's a Better Way - Here's a Proven Approach!

I recommend that you create TWO standard Action
Plan Forms for your company:

1. Action Plan Synopsis and,

2. Action Plan Details, described below.

After you design your Action Plan Forms, you (and
your subordinates) can use the forms to
brainstorm an Action Plan before committing it to
final copy for your Operations Manual.

Typically, your subordinate will develop Action
Plans. You as manager will approve your
subordinates' Action Plans. Generally then, this
means that the person who does a position's
technical work will develop that position's
SYSTEMS Section of the Operations Manual.

(This supports the idea that you don't promote or
transfer someone until they document their
current position. What a concept!)

Having said that, I will discuss the Action Plan
forms as if you were going to fill them out.
(After all, you too must document your job to
make the whole system work.)

You can easily design your Action Plan Forms.

The real work is when you use your creative
thinking to generate an actual Action Plan that
aids achievement of its stated objective. Let's
examine the steps you can take to create an
Action Plan.

First, write a few words to describe the results
you want achieved. Avoid writing long
descriptions. Simultaneously, use the viewpoint
of ACTION - don't use passive,
3rd-person-invisible suggestions!

Action Plan Synopsis F0rm

When you design your Action Plan Synopsis F0rm,
you'll want to include the following four fields:

1. Date

2. Preliminart Objective

First, consider your objective preliminary.
You may need to consider other details
Before your objective becomes "official."

3. Assumptions

Whenever you plan something, your
assumptions affect your plan, whether
intuitive, rational, written, or verbalized.

For example, your plan to hire someone is
automatically swayed by your assumption
that the new-hire would benefit you.

4. Forecast - (cost versus potential return,
if necessary)

At this point, you probably have enough
information to decide whether to go ahead with
the next level Action Plan described below.

Action Plan Detail F0rm

Assuming you will proceed to the next level, you
would then insert the following information on
your Action Plan Details f0rm that contains the
following information:

Official Objective

Standards (how you will measure success)


Involved Personnel (line personnel (see PVT

Staff Relationships (staff personnel (see PVT

General Benchmarks (steps to achievement - who
will do what and when?)

Reporting Loops (who reports to whom?)

Delegated Benchmarks (who's going to do the
steps and when? (interim deadlines))

Final Deadline

Call to Action

A key to your success is using accurate and
tested Action Plans.

Finally, keep in mind that you must debug Action
Plans to perfection... then you must often update
them to keep pace with improved techniques and
new technology.

The job is nev'er done. That's why it's important
to keep one eye on your Entrepreneurial Dream.
Don't let a lack of Action Plans stunt the growth
of your business!

"What lies behind us and what lies before us
are small matters compared to what lies within
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you suffer increasing pressure to slash costs
and get more done with fewer people?

I work with managers and executives to relieve
this pressure of having to boost production and
pr0fits with fewer people. I like to say, "We
take the pressure off!"

Over two decades, SMS has saved time, m0ney, and
effort for scores of companies in Silicon Valley
(and from Toronto to Hong Kong)! This means you
benefit from techniques proven successful on over
300 projects.

I can help. You decide.

HELP Profitable Venture Tactics help your

Mike--This eZine relies on subscriber's
participation. So, it stands to reason, the more
subscribers,the more participation. You can expand
the circulation by telling your colleagues about
Profitable Venture Tactics.

Your business and management colleagues will
thank you for being so thoughtful.

What did you learn today that you found most

How will you apply what you have learned at

Please email your comments to

Best Regards,

Mike Hayden, Principal/Consultant
Your partner in streamlining business.

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