What is the plan?

Authored by George Zack, President Two Harbors Consulting

– As we have set for the question, “can the frameworks you utilize for business process improvement be leveraged for your personal life,” we will now start to explore that in detail.  In this series of posts, I will work through each of the elements of a what the Capability Maturity Model (CMMI) considers a managed or defined process.  The goal of this series is to provoke thought how the elements of such generic practices are not only applicable to business, but can have bearing on your personal life.  By tying these practices to you personally, I believe it will drive a greater understanding in how they are to be applied in the business setting.

Assuming you, have been following in this series of posts (“Getting your personal development managed from what you learn at work” and  “What is the policy for your personal improvement?“) you understand that
1.) there are attributes of any process or personal development that make it successful and 2.) you have established a policy or objective or some vision of what you want to be or where you want to go.
In the CMMI framework, these attributes are the “Generic Practices” of a managed process.  And the setting of the policy is the first of the generic practices.

The second attribute (or generic practice) is “Establish and maintain the plan for performing the process.”  The CMMI model goes on to say “The purpose of this generic practice is to determine what is needed to perform the process and to achieve the established objectives, to prepare a plan for performing the process, to prepare a process description, and to get agreement on the plan from relevant stakeholders.”  And then it adds this very important clarification:  “The practical implications of applying a generic practice vary for each process area. ”

So what does that mean in terms of our personal improvement journey?  It is one thing to have a personal objective or a policy to get a college degree or a professional certification, but you need a plan to get there.   Yard improvement project?  You probably are going to want a plan.  In both these example you should expect to have input and buy in from the stakeholders who are funding that degree pursuit (even if they are funding it by supporting your time to go get it) and whether you plant trees or put in artificial sod.

Circling back to my personal example of running:  my plans for training for an event have been defined based on the event itself.  The training plan for an all out mile on the track is very different than training for a 100 miler in Leadville, Colorado.  The short distance event plan would contain explosive speed workouts on the track, wearing spiked shoes, bazu-6814843.jpgand a weekly mileage plan that was relatively low.  Training for the Leadville 100 would drive a plan that had me doing long runs of several hours, sometimes on back to back days in the mountains at high elevations.  The point here is that while both plans are running, the specifics of the plan are dependent on the “practical implications of applying a generic practice for each process area.”

On a related note:  there is no lack of opinions and literature on how to plan including how far ahead it should be considered and to what level of detail. I don’t prescribe here that any particular methodology is superior over the other but I will offer some insight again from my running.  I have been the guy that has defined plans for weeks and months leading up to a race where I have planned that I need to do a specific workout on a specific day to assure that I am tracking to my expected results.  Sometimes that works, but sometimes I have woke up on that day and have found that my plan has been foiled by something I did not foresee (like a blizzard).  I have also been that the guy who has decided to wing it and determine what I am going to do on a day to day basis, or with very little in terms of a plan.  Such open ended free forms plans have also been challenged:  I owe it to my family ahead of time to plan out when I want to drop in a 3 hour long run in the mountains and a ride there and back (versus dropping that on them that morning).  Your plan needs to be both long range looking and “agile” enough to meet your needs and those of your stakeholders – even if you are the only stakeholder that you are concerned about.