an online conversation
about design management

action lists for designers

Action plans

Some time ago I was in a business roundtable where we were regularly exposed to guest speakers who showed us how to improve our businesses.

One of the speakers who had a big impact showed us how to use action plans for the day-to-day management of a business. We put this into place in the studio and all follow the same methods. It  has improved work flow and decreased management time. Here are the main points of that presentation.

Clarify your goal.

What is the expected outcome? How do you know you have reached your destination? What makes your goal measurable? What constraints do you have, like the limits on time, money, or other resources. This could be as simple as "finalise three presentation design by 2PM today"

Write a list of actions.

Write down all actions you may need to take to achieve your goal. For the above goal this would include things like presenting the roughs to others in the studio, making refinements on feedback, preparing final visuals with InDesign, print and mount presentation.

Analyse, prioritise, and prune.

Look at your list of actions. What are the absolutely necessary and effective steps to achieve your goal? Mark them and then cross out those that don't have a significant impact on the outcome.

Organise your list into a plan.

 Decide on the order of your action steps. Start from looking at your marked key actions. For each action, what other steps should be completed before that action? Rearrange your actions and ideas into a sequence of ordered action steps. (We converted those into tasks that are registered in our studio management system.) Finally, look at your plan once again. Are there any ways to simplify it even more?.

We found that by each of us taking responsibility for an action plan we were more accurately able to gauge the time it was going to take to complete a job and it gave us a checklist to follow.