Planning Ahead

Henry Mintzberg, a management professor at McGill University, is known for his studies showing the difference between management theory and management activity.  His studies demonstrate that managers love to say they’re visionary, forward thinking, planners, etc., but their day-to-day activities show just the opposite. They tend to be reactive rather than proactive. They take very little time to look into the future, but rather they manage in the present, tackling the myriad issues that show up and demand to be dealt with RIGHT NOW!

Registrars across Canada are in the last few hours of getting ready to welcome over one million students to their campuses. Presumably, we’ve planned ahead for this event (I certainly hope so!). But there are all sorts of things that will surprise us in the next few days that we haven’t been able to plan ahead for. If that sounds like where you’re at RIGHT NOW and you’re a little panicked, take a deep breath. Face it: there’s no more time to plan ahead for this year, but don’t let it keep you up all night.

Relax.

You can turn it to your advantage. Take the long-term view and prepare for next year while you’re reacting this year.

  • Keep notes on your smart phone or carry a note pad & pen.
  • Ask your co-workers to do the same and tell them you’ll follow up next week with a meeting to review how things went.
  • Start planning a web survey (maybe Survey Monkey?) to gather ways to improve next year.
  • Take photos if that helps you remember. For example, if there’s a bottleneck creating a huge lineup of people and you want a visual reminder, your smart phone camera is your friend. The pictures should be time-stamped, too, if that’s important.
  • Schedule a follow-up meeting to review how things went and how you can improve next year.

Hey, don’t let anyone accuse you of not thinking ahead. Prove Professor Mintzberg wrong. You are actually right in the midst of planning 12 months in advance. That’ll impress your bosses and colleagues. And you can sleep well these next few nights, too.

I’ll expect to see you looking much more relaxed at the next Registrars conference.

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