The power of a written plan to influence outcomes cannot be underestimated. This works at the personal level and the business level. The only requirement is the people involved in making the plans happen need to be committed to the planned outcome.
If in doubt, the HARVARD STUDY – Evidence that writing down your goals works should convince you:
Students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program were asked: ‘Have you set and written down goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?’
- Only 3% had written goals.
- 13% had goals but hadn’t written them
- 84% had no specific goals
10 years later the same students were interviewed. The 13% of the class who had set goals were earning twice as much on average as the 84% who didn’t have goals.
The 3% who had written goals – were earning 10 x as much on average as the other 97%, and also reported better health, better relationships, and overall happiness and success.
The message is clear, from you fading New Year resolutions, to life goals, to project goals having a written plan makes a huge difference. But achieving the required effect is not so simple. The minority of MBA students who had taken the trouble to write down their goals, and their plans to achieve them, were most likely committed to the plan. The challenge for project goals written into a project plan is developing the same level of commitment.
I have posted numerous blogs discussing ways to make the project plan and in particular the schedule into an effective document for communicating the agreed goals and plans, but on its own a well crafted document is still of little use (see: Scheduling Posts). Creating buy-in and commitment to the project plan is a leadership role and requires the project planner to act as an effective leader, supporting their project manager.
Leadership is a learned skill, based on personal integrity. Some of the key learnable skills of a leader that directly relate to the roles of the project planner as a leader include:
Obviously the project planner cannot accomplish all of this alone; support is needed from project management. Helping the project manager help the planner to be successful requires a different skill set, ‘advising upwards’ but that is the subject of another paper (see Managing Upwards from our published papers).