Planning a Plan

I read an article on how to prepare a TED Talk.  Not because I expect to ever do one, but because TED Talks are well prepared and well researched and I thought what works for them might be helpful for me.

It turns out that the ten points they raise are useful in preparing nearly anything.

I especially liked point 1.  Start Before You Are Ready.  I have found that in any plan there is a time to start that well precedes the point where you know everything you might need.  To wait until you know everything is a defect known as perfection-procrastination-paralysis.  Not a good thing.  Yesterday I talked about lists that help.  Make list early and update them as you evolve your plan.

When you start before you are ready you will make some missteps and you will learn from them.  You will know more than you would had you learned the lesson out of a book or by listening to someone else.  The plan will become a living thing where you are the student and the designer and the executive.  Committed is a good thing.

Even simple plans like annual budgets take two or three years to get right.  The first one may be well crafted and very wrong because the real world conspires to throw things at you that were previously not seen.  Could be good or bad, but it is always unforeseen.

Point 2 is What’s your message?  In planning it is “What’s your purpose?”  A plan without a guiding central issue is more of a dream and less of a plan.  Just like a talk, plans break down into paragraphs or sub goals.  You can edit a paragraph without changing the theme.  Plans should be like that too.  Think object oriented programming.

Point 3.  Review your resources.  Again clearly a parallel.  Resources include financial resources, skill, time, energy, creativity and discipline.  The non-financial resources are the ones that will execute the plan.  Never underestimate their value.

Number 6. Enlist a team to help, is worthy of consideration. No one knows all that they need and sometimes massive mistakes can be easily avoided.  Usually though, the team is the cheerleader, the conscience, and the reference librarian.  All roles that a plan requires.  It is interesting to notice that none of them can be filled by the planner.  You should decide if they are a requirement for you and if so, create the support.  Sometimes an advisor can fill all three.

The remaining six points are a bit more specific to a talk than a plan.  They are still worth noticing.

You can find the story here.  10 Steps to Create a Standing Ovation Worthy TED Talk

You might also find  TED.COM useful. In my opinion, it is in there with Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, and the Khan Academy as among the most valuable sites on the internet.

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Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

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