7 Tips for a Successful Plan

July 10, 2013

planIn the past few years, I have had the opportunity to work on developing some new projects in my workplace.  I would imagine that in many small libraries, a plan consists of a couple typed pages outlining the idea, the plan, and how one wants to promote and accomplish the goal.  That said, in much of my experience, I haven’t felt that sufficient attention has been paid to a well-rounded process; one that takes several weeks or even a couple of months to complete.  Often, it ends of being more of a great idea that ultimately fails or lacks momentum because it hasn’t really been thought through, and forget about any kind of assessment beyond a cursory glance.

I have found that doing a well-thought out plan does several things:

  • Forces you to think about all possible concerns, and solutions, before you launch your plan
  • Encourages you to research your subject and learn from others, providing context for your project
  • Provides a legacy document that shows your thought process, why you undertook the project at this point in time, and how you planned to follow-up/assess success or failure
  • Fosters collegiality among the workgroup and forges strong bonds in the workplace

Below are my 7 Tips for a Successful Plan:

  1. Round up the peeps: Get together people who are enthusiastic about your idea and can add to it in a positive way.  This doesn’t mean there won’t be disagreements, but only that the shared goal will help override personal opinions. Be sure to have administrator support.
  2. Get into the trenches: Once you have your group, start researching your topic.  Share articles, and discuss openly.  An annotated bibliography can keep everyone up to date and can help inform those not directly involved in the plan.
  3. Find your inner CEO: Do an actual business plan.  It doesn’t have to include everything that a formal plan may include, but some pieces that are standard are: Project History, Literary Review, Goal, Objectives, Challenges/Concerns, Assumptions, Timeline, Recommendations, and Bibliography.  You may also want to consider a SWOT analysis, as this helps you to look at your situation in relation to the project for all its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  4. Let’s get together…: Plan a regular meeting time on the same day of the week (for example, each Monday at 3:00 p.m.)  Invite all stakeholders.  Do a calendar invite as a recurring meeting and get it on everyone’s radar. Make an agenda, no matter how brief.  Keeping a regular meeting date and having predetermined topics ensures you are always moving forward.  This doesn’t preclude….
  5. Getting into the cloud: Use email in between meetings as necessary, but work to put your document on a shared space, such as GoogleDrive, so that updates and feedback can be immediate.  Using a Wiki is also a great way to collaborate and keep momentum at a high level between meetings.
  6. Tear down that wall: Use your Wiki to post both agendas and meeting minutes (a requirement if you need to keep other staff abreast of the project’s progress.) Transparency keeps communication open, and offers opportunity for viewpoints and input from all areas of the library.
  7. How you doin’?: Be sure to build assessment of some kind into your plan.  Define success before you start.  Once you launch your plan, be sure to notice what is working and what is not.  Be flexible and willing to make adjustments.

Remember that even the best plans sometimes may not work out.  But ultimately, the winner will be you and your library, because you all will have learned something in the process.  A well-laid plan and a defined process will mean that you have given it your best shot.

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