Using a calendar, checklist and strategic plan

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Today, we will explore two management basic tools and the idea of a strategic plan. Few businesses take seriously the need for a strategic plan and many of the few that do rarely use the plan once they have created it. Strange, yet true. A strategic plan can also be valuable for a family to consider. I'll start with the calendar and checklist.

Calendar: After more than five decades of religiously using a daily planner of the paper and pen kind, about two years ago, my wife convinced me of the value of an electronic calendar of the computer and smartphone kind. I still have tinges of needing the paper and pen process and secretly (not so secretly) use a 3-inch-by-5-inch card for a daily checklist/calendar. A calendar is a helpful reminder of the concept of time, yet it needs not rule our lives. Time management is a basic tool that enables us to organize and measure the tasks to be done at work or at home, thus the importance of a calendar. Here are two important items to ponder regarding the use of a calendar:

• May it be a reminder that time is eternal. Don't feel you have to rush time.

• May it be a tool that helps us respect and value other people's time and our own self-time.

Checklist: I keep several checklists and there have been times when I have a master checklist to keep track of all of them. I don't recommend getting to that point. A checklist helps us to be accountable for that which we are responsible and helps us to hold each other, as team members, accountable. Checklists help us to organize, manage and remember those people, things and events that we value. What we place on a checklist (and calendar) are indicators of our values.

Strategic plan: The standard strategic planning process can be extremely complex, tedious and time consuming. An alternative approach is to be focused and specific, keeping the ultimate intent of being strategic in mind. We can ask a series of discriminating, practical and simple questions. We can consider a few strategic issues directly and openly. Answering the questions and examining the strategic issues will give us insights and understanding of how to effectively plan.

Here are examples of questions to ask from author and management consultant Robert Fritz: What do we offer? Who are our customers? What do they want? What do we want? What is the current and future market? Where are we going?

The matter of strategic issues is challenging. Strategic issues are those questions, concerns and obvious needs that are real, yet often unspoken and not addressed. For planning to be meaningful and effective, the issues must be stated and resolved.

The use of a calendar and simple checklists will create a foundation and a discipline of good management. Taking time to think, ponder and plan strategically creates the highest probability for success and sustainability at work and at home.

Linnartz - of Empowerment Experts - is a consultant, coach and facilitator of individuals, teams, families and organizations. Comments, questions and suggested topics are welcome. Call (575) 770-4712 or email bernie356@me.com.

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