Make the Goal Happen
Eventually you must move beyond thinking and get into doing. But when you've properly laid the groundwork, achieving a goal becomes far easier. If you've prepared, you can make a few final checks and then proceed, taking the whole team along with you.
Set Down the Plan
Once you've got some idea of what the achieving the goal will really take, you can begin planning. By writing down all the information for the previous sections, you should have everything you need to develop a comprehensive plan. You know what must happen and when, what it will cost, and who is necessary at what times.
Put this plan into a coherent form. You can use paper, a calendar, project management software, or any other tool you're comfortable using. The critical thing is to spot problems before they begin and catch conflicts in advance.
If you've never before used project management software, consider giving it a try. You can graphically see how parts of your plan interact and, with many packages, get color-coded alerts that show you when the interaction of the time and dependency requirements you've specified are doomed from the start.
Being so formal in your approach may make you feel as though you're a candidate for some geek achievement reality television show. Don't let it shake or deter you. There is no loss of your old fun-loving self or of any spontaneity. All you are doing is anticipating problems and taking steps so you don't have to deal with them. That leaves you with far more time to act on whim than if you constantly had to clean up after problems.
Look for Problems
Everything is laid out; it's a perfect time to uncover trouble. Look for conflicts, areas where you lack resources, inadequate time at a critical part of the goal, or any other issue that could derail your efforts. Unfortunately, in much of life, many call such efforts negative, but stumbling ahead without heed is real negativity. As you find issues, you can also look for solutions — a very positive experience.
Communicate the Plan
Once you have something solid, bring in your team and explain the intent. You've probably discussed the goal with your team before, but now communication is critical. Let them see all the requirements for what is still a preliminary plan. They're a part of it, so let them see what's in store and welcome any suggestions that might improve the plan. You're also likely to learn things that could affect your activities that you might not ever know any other way.
A plan is all well and good, but how do you know if you're following it? Easy! You use metrics. You must find ways to measure the progress of each and every part of your plan. In some cases the task is relatively simple, and you'll just want to know that the person responsible has accomplished it.
In other cases, though, metrics are more complex. You might be dealing with a long-term goal that seeks to change the way something occurs. For instance, a company might want to increase inquiries from prospects in a particular part of the country, or a nonprofit might be concerned with its fundraising for a specific project. In such cases, you will probably have targets that you're trying to reach by certain times.
Whether your plan is complex or simple, there is always a way of telling whether you are closer to a goal or farther away. If not, it's possible you haven't clearly enough defined it.
Set Things into Motion
Once the plan looks good, put it into play. Figure out how much you can comfortably load onto your team members and delegate, delegate, delegate. This will give them a feeling of ownership and increase the chances that your communal efforts will bear fruit.