Leaders need to learn how to plan. But planning can be daunting! Those who teach planning tend to assume that leaders have all the time in the world to do planning. But there’s a better and simpler way to plan, and it works, because it’s practical and doable. It takes less time and less effort, and it produces more useful results. The planning approach that I teach has four stages:

  1. IDEAL – Here is where you should start. Start with a clear idea of what should be and what ought to be. This is the ideal situation. Don’t worry if your situation is not yet the ideal situation. Just understand and state what this situation looks like. The more specific you can be the better.
  2. REAL – Now go to your actual situation. What does the present situation look like? Come up with facts and realities. Don’t be afraid to face them, whatever they may be. Reality is the leader’s best friend!
  3. ORDEAL – This is when you face the gap between the IDEAL and the REAL. How wide is the gap? Why is this happening or why has this happened? Begin examining the distance between the two. Look for causes, not just symptoms. Understand the situation carefully. This may result in all sorts of negative feelings, but that’s okay. The important thing is that, now, you are emotionally engaged, not just intellectually informed.
  4. NEW DEAL – This is when you come up with solutions. What should we do? How do we solve the gap? Where do we begin? This problem-solving mode will result in creative ideas that can become the basis of new goals for the future. We will talk about that later.

Watch this podcast to understand this process better.

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