Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Getting Things Done: The Five Phases of Project Planning

The process of project planning involves a series of steps that has to occur before your brain can make anything happen physically:
  1. Defining purpose and principles
  2. Outcome visioning
  3. Brainstorming
  4. Organising
  5. Identifying next actions

The Reactive Planning Model:

The unnatural planning model is what most people consciously think of as 'planning', and because it's so often artificial and irrelevant to real work, people just don't plan. But what happens if you don't plan ahead of time? In many cases, crisis! What's the first level of focus when the stuff hits the fan? Action - work harder, get busier! Finally, when having a lot of busy people banging into each other doesn't resolve the situation, someone gets more sophisticated and says, "We need to get organised." Someone then sits down and tries to organise the problem into 'boxes' before realising that this doesn't solve the problem. More creativity is needed and so brainstorming occurs. Eventually, the question needs to be asked: "So what are you really trying to do here, anyway." This is when the vision and purpose is agreed. The reactive style is the reverse of the natural model.

The Five Phases of Natural Planning:

Thinking in more effective ways about projects and situations can make things happen sooner, better and more successfully. These five phases must be completed:


It never hurts to ask the question, 'why'? Realising the purpose for the project gives many benefits:

  • It defines success
  • It creates decision-making criteria
  • It aligns resources
  • It motivates
  • It clarifies focus
  • It explands options.


In order most productively to access the conscious and unconscious resources available to you, you must have a clear picture in your mind of what success must look, sound and feel like. Purpose and principles furnish the impetus and the monitoring, but vision provides the actual blueprint of the final result. This is the 'what?' instead of the 'why?' What will this project or situation really be like when it successfully appears in the world?


Once you know what you want to have happen, and why, the 'how' mechanism is brought into play.


What are the things that must occur to create the final result? In what order must they occur? What is the most important element to ensure the success of the project?

The basic steps of organising are:

  • Identify the significant pieces
  • Sort by (one or more) components, sequences and priorities
  • Detail to the required degree

Next actions

The question to ask is 'what's the next action?' Decide on next actions for each of the current moving parts of the project.

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