Friday, 11 August 2017

Dropping balls and feverish work: the importance‎ of a plan

One of my managers recently had a bad day. It was a day where thousands of words were written, and frankly, he suffered. He met it with ebullient dignity, but the pain was quite clearly etched on his face. And do you want to know why? Because he'd failed to plan...

The A-Team were well known for their love of a good plan!
 So let's turn to our cultural staples quickly. You may not know this, but I’m a bit of a Harry Potter fan. In the books, one of the main characters Dumbledore quite clearly has a plan. He knows where things are going, before they ever get there. And what about TV? Well, just watch a single episode of the A Team and it’ll inject the importance of a plan – how else would a plan come together! And sports – no team takes to the pitch without a clear plan they’ll be seeking to execute; not even the England football team! Why? ‎Because you don't get very far without a plan. That mantra is something our Colleges’ leadership understand all too well. We develop strategic vision on the basis we want the best possible outcomes, rather than just any old outcome. And we tie that vision to clear objectives and aims so we’re creating a genuinely clear map for our Colleges to reach their destination. 

Without a plan, you're likely to be left working frantically and the result's unlikely to be anywhere near as good
So back to that poor manager looking a touch woeful. There's little doubt that he's decent at working under pressure. But with any significant piece of work, working well under pressure is rarely enough to deliver a great outcome: you'll just never get the best result with that style. There are a tremendous amount of people who ‎are extremely talented at what they do, and yet they fail to convert that talent into anything deliverable because there's been no plan. And speaking as an educator who’s passionate about helping people reach their potential, there’s nothing worse than watching talent being squandered. That’s true of this manager. Because however good his work was, it would always have been better, tighter and more focused if he’d dedicated a bit more time to it, by ensuring a plan was developed to deliver it. That's a lesson I’m hopeful he's now learned. 

Through this entire episode though, one thing did stand out and make me particularly proud. I often talk to our Colleges’ about having a collegiate atmosphere. One where people work with one another, helping their colleagues and driving forward as one team. And you know what, as that manager feverishly typed, I felt proud to see colleagues rallying around him, helping and assisting – even if just by making him a coffee – and giving him their time.

The collegiate ‎atmosphere which that manager’s failure to plan had generated was fantastic, and highlighted very clearly just how well people work together at our Colleges’ when the pressure’s on. And you know what, it’s the same when the pressure’s not on as well. And I know that all of the Colleges’ senior leaders would say that actually, a lot of our plans are based around developing that kind of atmosphere. So while that manager clearly didn’t have a plan – but, I’m sure will next time – it’s great to see that some of our plans are working out.

And you know – I love it when a plan comes together!

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