An action plan is a guide document that describes the various action steps to be taken by an individual or group to achieve a predetermined course of action or objectives. It is also the strategy leaders use to convert their vision into reality by defining the step of actions to be taken at each point and the outcome resulting therefrom.
Action plan arise from deliberate decisions of leaders to enhance accountability and efficiency in their teams as they pursue their vision and aspirations.
Leaders develop action plan when the vision is clearly defined, the mission is known and the journey to translate the vision to reality is scheduled to commenced. The action plan is the tool leaders use to realize these dreams and it provides the compass or road map for its achievement.
For an action plan to be sustainable and effective, the under-listed six important ingredients must be present in good quantity.
- What to do. The action plan must state in detail what tasks or activities are to be carried out by the leader and their teams, for them to convert their vision into reality. The task to be done should not be a composite item; it should be broken down into its various units, to the point that each unit can be clearly assigned to an individual to carry out within a reasonable time for completion.
- Who to do it. Often time, a good plan can become hampered mainly because of the task being no body’s responsibility. No matter how good a plan is, if accountability by individuals is not built into it, the plan will fail. The action plan should therefore carry the names of resource persons who shall carry out the task, when they should implement it, where and how it must be carried out. The leader must ensure this is not missed out, as it aids action tracking and performance measurements.
- What is required to do it. The action plan provides for resource requirement and deployment. The resource requirement helps the leader arrange for the procurement of materials, logistics, men and works which are necessary to implement the plan as and when due.
- How to do it. Action plan is a document that provides strategies for implementing activities. It condenses the various policies, tactics and daily schedule of tasks that will guide the plan implementers to achieve the target. The ‘how to do it’ document helps to instill quality control and uniform standard of operation across board.
- What it should look like when it is done. The success of the action plan can be adjudged based on its final output. The final output will in turn be compared to the planned objective, vision and anticipated reality. The outcome should match what was planned. Where what was planned is different from reality, explanations for this must be provided as this could be interpreted as failure to adhere to the provisions of the action plan.
- Share the action plan document with your team. When a leader has put together an action plan, the document must not be kept to his/herself alone. If the document requires the participation of team members, it can no longer be classified as a private document. The leader must call a meeting of team members and, share the content of the document with them. The sharing session provides both opportunity for information exchange and contributions of team members to the overall document. This process includes communication, information sharing and role allocation. Team members should be informed of their roles, responsibilities and reporting line while implementing the plan. In anticipation of conflicts, the ground rules for it’s resolution should be set at this session.