The time has passed when leaders can make plans for teams. In these rapidly changing times the most effective team plans are authored by the teams themselves under the guidance of the team's leadership. More often than not, leadership now hands down a list of outcomes to be achieved within the next 12-24 months, and the team is responsible to create the plans and processes to achieve the mandated outcomes.
Effective team plans are anchored to the team's vision. Teams who are proficient at visioning can see the big picture and their role in creating it. They are able to look down the road a year or two, and visualize what it will be like when the desired outcomes are achieved. Once the vision is clear, the team can cut the picture down into doable parts by setting achievement goals. Generally five-to-seven goals are needed annually to specify the areas where accomplishment will occur.
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Once team goals are set each goal needs to be supported by a series of performance standards that specify the quality, quantity, timeliness, and task approaches needed to consistently progress towards the desired outcomes. Performance standards can be integrated into existing procedures, or can be used to create new procedures if the team will be taking on new tasks to accomplish the goals at hand. Performance standards can also be used to measure progress and appraise the performance of each team member.
Planning is not complete until benchmarks have been set to assure steady progress towards goal attainment. Benchmarks are also known as "successful approximations" and will give the team a way to measure how quickly they are producing results. Often benchmarks reveal when each set of performance standards will be achieved, leading to overall goal accomplishment.
Specific and detailed planning on the part of a team fosters the team's commitment to the plan, assures that the team understands the plan and its' intention, and allows the team ownership over its' future.