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Imagine that you plan out a trip for you and a group of friends. You prepare the whole thing by yourself – you research the best route, the most interesting destinations and even the places where you can stop for a short break. Once the plan is ready, you briefly inform your friends where you are going, and with that you all set off.
During the trip it turns out that Ian walks slower than the others and can’t keep up with the pace that you’ve previously estimated. What is more, Meryl enjoys the views so much that she asks for longer breaks to have more time and take some beautiful photos. On your way back home it turns out you got stuck in traffic that could have been easily avoided with a shortcut that Bill frequently uses and that you didn’t know about. You reach home in the late evening, very tired. You’ve missed a new episode of your favorite TV show, and you’re not quite happy with the whole trip. You haven’t predicted any of the delays that your team encountered and are not satisfied with the way it played out. How different would it be, if you engaged everyone in the planning process from the start?
The lack of transparency ruins your planning
The above example might seem silly, but it’s in fact not so far from your everyday challenges at work. Taking the responsibility of planning solely on yourself can lead to a number of issues. If you encounter any of the following problems, you might want to consider increasing transparency in your team:
If your projects frequently end up being overdue, there is a high possibility that most of the fault lies in incorrect planning. It’s quite a challenge to estimate each task accurately. Especially, if other team members are not actively participating in the process.
Incorrect task execution
Task descriptions are one of the most overlooked elements of planning. It’s natural for us to think that we will remember what we had in mind while creating the task. However, oftentimes we end up forgetting some of the important details. What is more, if only one person is in charge of planning, others might not be focused enough to remember and properly understand each and every piece of information. It can result in incorrect task execution and a lot of issues that could have been avoided.
Indifference to the effect
Not engaging everyone in the planning process can end up in them being indifferent to the overall outcome, and focused only on their part of the work. Without a clear bigger picture in mind, and a shared sense of responsibility for this picture, it is hard to care about how it looks.
Without a transparent record of all elements of the plan, it is nearly impossible to avoid miscommunication issues. There always will be information that some people know, but others have missed or understood incorrectly. With no complete, transparent source where they can easily check anything they need, people are forced to base their decisions on fragmentary pieces of information only.
Lack of integrity
Being involved in only one small part of the plan makes it difficult to see one’s work as an integral element of the bigger thing. In a puzzle, if you look at a single piece, it doesn’t make much sense. Only when you connect it to other pieces, a clear picture comes out. The sense of integrity is essential to effective and meaningful participation in the work.
Lower quality of the product
All of the above issues can result in the lower quality of your product. If it is created by a group of miscommunicated people, who are not entirely sure what the main outcome should be and what role they play in the bigger scheme of things, delays, bugs, and general inefficiencies can be difficult to avoid.
Transparent planning can turn out to be a game-changer for your team’s success. Let’s go back for a moment to your unfortunate trip with a group of friends. How different would it play out if you engaged everyone in a transparent planning process? Let’s examine the possible results of such a decision.
More accurate time estimations
If Ian was engaged in the trip planning process, he would voice his concern about the estimated time, since his pace of walking is slower than the others’. Meryl would also request more time for taking pictures, since she wants to try out her new camera. In result, everyone would be prepared for a longer trip and maybe even you would set off earlier. Correct estimation is crucial to the health of your project. It provides your team with time and space to take care of every detail. Additionally, it helps you make the right decisions in communication with your client.
Engagement of the whole team
Everyone can put in one’s pennyworth into the plan. With all friends engaged, it is more likely that new ideas will show up, making your trip more eventful and adjusted to the individual needs of each person involved. Similarly, in the process of planning each member of your team has their own unique perspective. Bringing all of these different views together might result in incredible enhancements to the product.
Easier to spot issues early on
Engaging Bill in the planning phase would save you a lot of time and trouble – you would never get stuck in the traffic and miss your favorite TV show. Just like Bill knew about the shortcut that you had no idea about, your teammates can be aware of issues and solutions that are not so obvious to you. Transparent planning gives a chance for everyone involved to voice their concerns and come up with possible solutions. It’s better to spot as many issues as possible early on and have the time to deal with them, than to deliver a faulty product directly to your client.
Higher trust in the team
Having all of the information transparently laid out can highly increase the trust that the team members have in each other. They know what the plan is, how it came to be, and why its specific elements look the way they do. They can also be sure that if any changes to the plan occur, they will be informed about it. The spirit of trust increases effectiveness, loyalty and, most importantly, good vibes!
In the first scenario of your trip, you’ve planned everything out on your own, without consulting with anyone. The trip turned out to be a failure and it was mostly your fault. However, what if everyone took part in the planning phase? They would be equally responsible for the outcome. It is unhealthy and strategically incorrect to put all of the ownership into one person. If more people feel responsible for the results, they will all work together towards success and support each other in this pursuit. It can also boost the team’s motivation and effectiveness. If everyone puts effort into the plan, they will also care about its outcome more.
If you were to plan a trip with your friends, you would most likely do it on a piece of paper. In the case of planning a project, things are a little bit more complicated. An assistance of proper software, designed to meet the needs of project teams, can be tremendously helpful.
However, not every tool popularly used for planning is capable of maximizing the effectiveness of the process. Many of them are built for different purposes and often lack the features that would be most helpful to you, such as easy access for multiple users, simple and clear interface, edition in real-time or convenient drag & drop feature. It would be even better if such a tool existed within Jira and not required you to switch between programs and windows.
Too bad a perfect application possessing all of the above features does not exist… Or maybe it does?
If you’re curious to find out, you might want to check out our Team Planner app and try it for yourself!
Maybe the next time you decide to plan a trip it’s going to be a great strategic success.