Coaching Corner: Why Weekly Plans Matter

August 16, 2015 — Posted by Al Shalloway

At Net Objectives we do a weekly status for everyone else to see. This is important because we are a distributed company. The status is simple, we answer four questions:

  • What I did last week
  • What I’m going to accomplish this week
  • What I need help with
  • A ‘how I see things are going’ commentary

I often have a concern that many of my folks consider this an unnecessary burden adding little value to them.  However, while the communication/community aspect of it is important, it is actually the first step for planning an effective week.

All too many of us have the experience of coming in Monday morning and having our thoughts for the week disappear in a flurry of emails and interruptions.  It prompts us into thinking we must improve our time management.  Time management is, of course, an illusion.  You cannot manage time. It comes and goes on its own – all we can do is manage what we do.  This, of course, requires understanding the importance of what we do. 

In the flurry of interruptions and unexpected requests what’s important can be hard to ascertain.  This is where planning is useful.  Getting clear on what needs to happen is a necessary aspect of being able to stay focused and work on what you need to work on.  It doesn’t mean one “sticks to the plan.”  Remember Eisenhower’s “planning is everything, the plan is nothing.”  But without it, it’s hard to differentiate between what’s important and what is merely urgent.

This is where the simple weekly status report is useful.  Each section has a bigger purpose.

  • What I did last week.  While this, of course, does help create community, it also allows me to reflect on what happened.  People typically always accomplish more than they give themselves credit for.  Pausing to tell others also give them a chance to see that they did do something.
  • What I’m going to accomplish this week. This can open the door for an effective plan for the week.  Prior to writing this, the author can actually take the time to plan their week.  Then, when Monday comes they’ll be ready for it.
  • What I need help with. All too often we are stuck requiring help without even noticing it.  A moment’s reflection may either let us know who we need to talk to or may result in help arriving from an unexpected source.
  • A ‘how I see things are going’ commentary. Maybe we see things better than others and cheer someone up.  Maybe we see things worse than others and can be cheered up.  Either way, a useful communication.

Clearly the status report is not a waste of time.  Even if were never sent it would make one feel better about last week and prepare for the coming one.  I have found that status reports being done at the end of the week (Friday afternoon) or just prior to the week beginning (Sunday night) to be most effective.  Looking at one’s schedule for the week and considering what’s most important and what you are going to accomplish is a great way to put the inevitable interruptions coming Monday into context.  Without that we are simply in a reactive state. 

Al Shalloway

 

 

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With over 40 years of experience, Alan is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, SAFe, Scrum and agile design.



        

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