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The One Page Plan

On Fathers day this year received a fascinating present (amongst others). A commentary chart for the 2005 Champions League Final between Liverpool and A.C. Milan as prepared by Clive Tyldesley.

On one side is the various notes he prepared before the match and the other side his explanation of how the document was used. As a Liverpool fan, I can clearly remember the match. But with my accountant hat on can see the reason for it and how it helped him prepare to commentate on the game.

His notes contain some key facts, such as the players and their shirt numbers, but also some back up data which would allow him to add some extras to the game. A summary of past histories of the teams, recent performances, where they stood in their respective leagues etc. Also odd ball facts such as Liverpool having been beaten in all competitions 19 times that season, past successes of the managers and even that the referee had been an accountant!

In my time in practice we used a one page plan to review where the firm was at the start of every week. I don't think it ever referred to football, but it did contain a brief summary of how we had done in the previous period as a business covering such items as:

  • sales achieved v target

  • cash received v target

  • projects expected to be completed v achieved

  • queries received v expected

It went on to show debtors/creditors and what we expected to pay out in the immediate future and finally what we expected to do in the current week.

The miscellaneous information that Clive put on his one page plan, might cover ages and the indiscretions of individual players. With a number of employees we put down things like days off or holidays in the coming week. Hopefully minimising the awkward questions "where is X employee today?"

The purpose of the one page plan is to pull all the important data that affects day to day work into one simple summary.

  • Review what was done,

  • bring forward what still needs to be done

  • set out what must be done

  • review expectations for this week

the objective being to ensure a less stress free week ahead by being properly briefed about the different parts of your business and what is needed to achieve the goals of this week coming.

If you have never thought about this sort of planning would be happy to discuss the benefits. It doesn’t necessarily need to be weekly, might be better monthly. All depends on the type of business you are operating.

But it does require that the key data can be summarised easily. If it's going to take you four days to gather the info there is something else that might need to be fixed first. Your overall organisation!

Clive in the explanation to his notes (which were hand written and very neat!) says it could be put on a spreadsheet, but the manual preparation helped in the learning process. Or as I would call it, planning.

He adds one clear line in his commentary of the match notes:

“Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail”

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