Detail plans that are written, are critical to success. You do not have a plan until it is a written document. If you do not have a written plan, you may have a dream or a vision or perhaps even a nightmare. Planning is essential; you cannot just shoot from the hip.
Plans should answer the questions: Why? Who? What? When? Where? and How? Keep your questions simple and be sure to communicate them to every member of the team. A simple plan will be understood, and readily translated into action. You must ensure that the plan allows for flexibility and is adaptable to circumstances. A plan, like a tree, must have branches – if it is to bear fruit.
As Napoleon put it: “Nothing succeeds in war except in consequence of a well prepared plan.”
Make sure planning is never separated from execution. Former Apple CEO Gil Amelio set forth the following guidelines for strong plans:
Create a clear vision of the future; invite contributions
Think of business as a value-delivery system
Focus on the intersection of what customers value and your core competencies
Define success clearly; identify critical success factors
Take bold initial steps. Communicate the direction.
Identify sustainable competitive advantages.
Realize that you cannot be number one in everything, but you must be number one in something.
When planning you must always plan for the unexpected. Another recommendation is to organize a “murder board” which allows team members to review your plans to examine them for any flaws. Since no plan is perfect, the “murder board” equips you to expect the unexpected.
Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) is the cornerstone of continuous improvement and should be implemented for all planning endeavors. It is an iterative four-step management method used in business for the control and continuous improvement of processes and products. Product Managers should have a strong grasp of PDCA and use it throughout all planning. They should also be advocates for the entire organization to use this methodology for ongoing, continuous improvement.
One of the most important skills is to plan and organize whatever project is being undertaken. Being proactive and planning well in advance of events is critical to being able to multi-task several projects and project a strong image both inside and outside the company.
Remember, every plan must be actionable – we should not just do something for the sake of doing it, or if we “always did it”. Make sure what we do has value and will improve the organization.
Being proactive in terms of planning, preparation and organizing is critical to being able to handle the heavy workload a Product Manager is entrusted with. Consistently review departmental yearly and monthly calendars. By developing your personal weekly calendar, this will keep you on track and able to meet deadlines, ensuring your commitments are kept; thus building and strengthening the trust you will gain from everyone within your organization.