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Action Planning
by Andrew E. Schwartz

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Organizations are confronted with problems each day. Many organizations, or more specifically, some managers are confronted with the same problems over and over again. The problem may have a new name or a new face but is essentially the same issue in a new disguise. Some managers never develop an effective method to confront and resolve the problems of their organization. Habitually, they do not find a solution to the real problem; rather they cover up the root of the problem and fix something symptomatic of the problem, instead of the problem itself. Experience has shown managers often like to feel needed in resolving, extinguishing the "brush fires" of the day, seemingly because there is excitement in being in the midst of confusion and turmoil.

What these managers do not realize is that there is a cylindrical affect with any type of planning, or lack thereof. Managers who are effective and develop effective responsible teamss are more apt to have adequate time which is utilized to plan ahead, attempting to solve problems before the organization even feels the problem exists. With effective, proactive planning, things keep getting better, and without it things continue to get worse. Action Planning is a process to develop strategies for changes in the organization based on an analysis of the problems which precipitate the need for change. It is a collaborative method of planning which involves the people working in the organization and permits the people who will be influenced by the decisions and change to have influence on the product or outcome.

Action Planning assumes that people will support that which they help to plan and create. Unless those involved are committed to that which they are changing, the plan does not have much hope for success. However, recent studies do indicate that employees who are a part of the planning and problem solving/decision making process will take on additional organizational responsibilities to implement the plans.

This action plan model can be used by the individual/manager to organize their thoughts on a given issue and develop results in an action agenda format which details the tasks and details the jobs to be accomplished. However, the process is best suited for work groups led by a manager that can utilize a team effort to solve major problems. By developing the plan in work groups it becomes a collaborative planning effort, which, when utilizing steps similar to brainstorming, will stimulate creativity of thought and provide a non-judgmental atmosphere for generating ideas. Working in groups can provide opportunity to build on others' ideas and be a spring board to solutions unavailable to any single individual. In addition, there is the satisfaction for the group in knowing that it is their own ideas which they are implementing in solving a problem.

Andrew E. Schwartz, CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates of Boston, MA a comprehensive management training and professional development organization offering over 40 skills specific programs and practical solutions to today's business challenges.

Copyright, AE Schwartz & Associates. All rights reserved.
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