Action Plans are central to every Continuous Improvement effort as they provide clarity, visibility and a level of commitment and responsibility necessary to get things done. However, if not enough care and effort is put into compiling an Action Plan, this can seriously affect the quality of the output and dent any chances of your improvement idea ever taking off. Done correctly, the Action Plan can be an effective weapon of mass improvements.
It is entirely discretional when to use an Action Plan although typical uses include: management, project or team meetings, brain storming sessions, problem deep dive sessions, review sessions, idea generation sessions and so forth.
We have compiled a few Top Tips for crafting what we like to call a Power Action Plan. We also put together a blank template, and partially completed example to download and invite you to give the Power Action Plan a test drive.
- Use the header fields as per our template but feel free to modify to what works well with your business. Delete any column headings you don’t use. Only use and keep the fields that are essential for you.
- Where applicable, split your Action Plan into 2 sections, one for “Short Term” (to be done within the week in question) and another for “Long term” (more than a week required to complete the action). This will make it clear what needs to happen immediately.
- Always address your intended audience as if they were not present when the action was assigned. This will ensure the correct context of the action is provided and help avoid the “What was this all about?” type of question further down the road.
- Endeavour to send out the Action Plan as soon as possible, preferably on the day the Actions were assigned.
- Start with the most important Actions, by using the pain vs. gain prioritisation technique. Actions with bigger impact and requiring lesser effort being the highest ranked.
- Group related actions together and create different Action categories where you have a lot of actions.
- If you use a meeting room, consider using a whiteboard demarcated as per the template. At the end of the meeting, simply take a digital photo of the completed whiteboard and email it to all assigned action owners. No double handling, no typing, no waste – typical Continuous Improvement!
- Always start the actual action statement with a verb. A verb is called an “action word” for a reason! This makes it clear from the onset exactly what needs to be done.
- Assign a unique number for each Action. This will make it so much easier during discussions. If you refer to Action X12, everyone immediately knows which one you’re talking about as opposed to explaining the action or reading it out – saves you a bit of time.
For a blank template click here to Download the file
To see a mocked up example your Download is here
We’d love to hear your comments and feedback on an this or other equally effective Action Plan formats.
If you’d like to find out more about Power Templates such as This Action Plan, please check out my Continuous Improvement Toolkit that is guaranteed to bring you great Business Improvement Results.
For even more detailed approaches to Continuous Improvement, you can check out my eBook “Continuous Improvement Manifesto – The Ultimate Guide To Business Value Creation”