Understanding your sector
Understanding your sector

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Understanding your sector

2 What is an action plan?

We all make action plans, very often in our heads if not actually written down. Action plans are simply a list of all the tasks that you need to complete in order to reach an objective or a goal. You may be familiar with writing a ‘to-do list’, but an action plan differs from this in that a to-do list is simply a list of necessary tasks to be addressed that may be completely unrelated. An action plan, by contrast, implies that the tasks are unified by all leading to the same objective.

We use action plans in order to ensure that:

  • we have a framework for considering how we will meet our objective
  • nothing is overlooked, for example a key step or item
  • tasks are tackled in the right order, at the appropriate time and deadlines are met
  • we have a record and sense of what we have achieved in the pursuit of an objective.

Even very small projects require some form of action plan, although this might be fairly minimal. Bigger projects – such as career planning – clearly require more thought and monitoring so building an action plan is a sensible approach to adopt.

Activity 2 Writing a simple action plan

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

This short activity is designed to help you think about the key aspects of an action plan.

Imagine you are planning a surprise birthday party for your sister. You have listed a number of tasks that you feel you will need to accomplish but this does not yet amount to an action plan.

TasksTasks
  • Look at potential venues
  • Book venue
  • Invite guests
  • Book catering
  • Draw up guest list
  • Buy present
  • Book band
  • Buy invitation cards
  • Order cake
  • Book photographer
  • Decide what to wear
  • Buy cake

Create your action plan by considering the tasks, who else you might need to involve and the timescale (short, medium and long term) in which everything needs to be done.

Table 2 Planning a surprise birthday party

Tasks Who else is involvedTimescale
Look at potential venues
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Book venue
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Invite guests
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Book catering
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Draw up guest list
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Buy present
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Book band
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Buy invitation cards
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Order cake
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Book photographer
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Decide what to wear
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Buy cake
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Comment

There is no absolutely correct answer to this problem but the following is a possible solution.

Table 3 Suggested action plan for a surprise birthday party

Tasks Who else is involvedTimescale
Look at potential venuesVenue managersShort
Book venueVenue managerShort
Invite guestsSister’s friends and familyMedium
Book cateringVenue; catering companiesMedium
Draw up guest listAsk sister’s best friendShort
Buy presentShopMedium
Book bandBand agentShort
Buy invitation cardsShopMedium
Order cakeBakersMedium
Book photographerLocal photographersMedium
Decide what to wearPartner or friendLong
Buy cakeBakersLong

The difference between your initial list and the action plan above is clear; the action plan gives some indication of task priority, timescale and others involved. As a result, it probably has a greater chance of success in meeting your objective of organising a memorable birthday party for your sister.

Having identified the important features of an action plan, and in particular the fact that it must have a unifying objective, you can now begin to construct one for progressing your career.

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