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Sequencing your list of activities


We are working through a series of weekly thoughts based around change and around “getting things done” in order to support this change. We are calling this Big skies, Big vision and this is week 6: “Sequencing your list of activities”

If you have been following the series, you will now have your vision. You have also broken this vision down into more manageable categories in which to place your activities and for each of these categories you have an exhaustive list of activities. You have also now reduced this exhaustive list down in size to the essential “must haves”.

Now we need to get this into a sequence and from there we then have all we need to build the plan – the details of which we will cover next week.

For now, I’m assuming that there is only you doing the “doing” and therefore the activities will be broadly linear. There will be elements you can do simultaneously where activities are paused for any reason – waiting for others, waiting for budget, requires a specific time etc – but I’m assuming, like most of us, you only have the capability to do one thing at a time.

You can do this electronically, but I would suggest a large blank wall and a large roll of paper, a few books of post-its and pens. For reasons that will become apparent when we discuss planning next week the roll of paper works best here.

Write all your prioritised actions down each on a separate post-its. Blue tack your roll to the wall and ensure enough space both left to right and top to bottom for all your actions.

Now start to stick your actions on the sheet left to right. While you are doing this consider the following questions and this will help influence where each action comes in the sequence:

  • Is this something you must do now?

  • Is this something which is a higher priorty than most of the others?

  • Is there a specific date by which this action needs to be complete? Is that early or later?

  • Is the action going to need time once started?

  • Is the action going to need input or help from others and at what point are they likely to be available?

  • Is this an action which can wait a while?

  • Is this an action which is not key to your vision? You should have already parked these in the prioritisation but it doesn’t harm to check

  • Does your action depend on another? If so, it needs to come after this dependency, and it might be useful to highlight this on the paper. Arrows come in useful here

  • Are there any actions you can do broadly in parallel? If so then line these up vertically

As you go through this exercise it will become obvious very quickly why post-its are a useful tool. Your sequence will change. And changes to each action will almost certainly require changes elsewhere which then require changes elsewhere. And so on and so forth.

Keep going until all post-its are on the board and you have a line from left to right. Now walk away. Give yourself time away from the sheet and then come back and review. If you see a need for change then make the changes. Repeat this until you are happy you have the sequence but don’t repeat ad nauseum. Once you have your plan it will evolve and change. But this will give you a very solid foundation.

You now have a sequenced set of prioritised actions which you know will build your categories and deliver your vision. We have now almost built your plan. What remains is to determine when each of these activities will take place and a way to manage the plan. We will deal with that next week.

Good luck with this and see you next week. In the meantime, and as ever if you have questions please drop us a line.

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