Impromptu Planning in 7 Steps

Have you ever had a general discussion unexpectedly turn into an impromptu planning session?  I’m talking about situations where you’re sharing some ideas on a project or a plan and someone asks you to go to the board and write out the major points.

It’s always easier to do something like that if you already have a framework, a “mental structure,” in mind.  I’ll describe the simple approach I use.

When I first gave this some thought, many years ago, the obvious structure for me to use was a simple one with three categories: hardware, software, and networking.

That basically handled the technical side of things for me – which was my objective at the time.

Over the years, I learned that, practically speaking,  much of the complexity and risk involved in a technical project is introduced by the “people” side of the project.  To factor that in, I included three more categories: people, paperwork, and processes.  (My 3 P’s.)

One last category was needed: other.  You always need a catch all category for things that do not fit within the first six.

  1. Hardware
  2. Software
  3. Networking
  4. People
  5. Paperwork
  6. Processes
  7. Other

When I engage in impromptu planning, I write these seven categories on the board.  This can help broaden the discussion beyond just the technical aspects of the plan and reveal concerns, constraints, and risk factors that might otherwise be left unsaid.