Stephen Bush is the founder and CEO of AEX Commercial Financing Group. Steve obtained his MBA from UCLA and is a U.S. Navy veteran.
Individual Planning Responsibility
An I Plan is a planning concept that refers to taking individual responsibility for both personal and business actions. It can have applications for a person as well as a business. At times it can take the form of a person's career plan and at others it will be formulated as a small business plan.
While the term "I Plan" might be new to many, the underlying planning strategies probably originated several decades ago without the descriptive terminology. In the current use, the "I" in "I Plan" can mean either I or individual. Either way, the intended reference is to a personal plan.
Why Is An I Plan Important?
In today's business-controls-everything economy, it is easy for individual priorities to get lost in the shuffle. Even in a small business situation, the business owner often puts business decisions ahead of personal issues. But with larger corporations, it is especially rare to see each individual reflected in the overall planning process.
There is no rigid framework for an I Plan. It should be flexible, realistic and incorporate personal goals. But on all levels, the I Plan must adopt an individual planning perspective.
Managing Your Personal Goals: Negotiating With Yourself
Two of the most disliked activities for many individuals are planning and negotiating. Because an I Plan essentially involves a negotiation with yourself about your future direction and career, there is an immediate challenge involving how to get past two tasks that are rarely in anyone's top 10 list of things to do.
While there can be multiple paths taken to overcome this challenge, the one with the best track record in my experience (25 years and counting) is to ask someone to help with facilitating the process for you. This is one of my professional roles, and it is always a rewarding one because of the positive results that are achieved in a collaborative environment.
I attribute much of the success that has been achieved in these team efforts to the fact that a Plan B mentality is so deeply ingrained in everything that I do. I am always thinking about a Plan B and so should you!
Whether we are talking about an I Plan or traditional small business planning, having a Plan B is increasingly vital for achieving a prudent strategy. Asking and evaluating "What could possibly go wrong?" has become a strategic necessity in most cases.
Changes to Career Planning Strategies
Managing Your Personal Plan
One of the earliest proponents of self-management was Peter Drucker. He wrote a classic book about managing yourself in preparation for a second career. Like many of his books, "Managing Oneself" requires introspection and self-assessment.
A career plan is one of the most visible vehicles for personal planning. A strategic use of an I Plan for a career is to develop contingency career plans (Plan B, etc. or perhaps Plan I in this case) to pursue in the event that something unexpectedly goes wrong with a current employment situation. This will involve a candid review of how everything has worked out so far and then honest answers to the question, "What could possibly go wrong?" With the recent financial and economic turmoil witnessed in such previously-stable areas as real estate and banking, it will be prudent to examine more than just the routine possibilities of unexpected career-changing events.
I Is for Initiative — New Career Trends
Peter Drucker was frequently "ahead of his time" in many of his observations. He talked about the shifting role of employers several decades ago when he saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall that foreshadowed the need for each individual to assume a much bigger role in their future career progress.
The practical need for personal initiative has become strikingly clear during the past 10 years. Banks have become a riskier operating environment for customers, investors and employees. The banking industry has discovered that they can make bigger profits with fewer employees, and a similar revelation has transpired in manufacturing and many other industries.
Initiative on a personal level can take many shapes. Reviewing new career and training choices is an important component.
Peter Drucker was writing about how individuals need to take charge of their career before most of us were aware just how important this was. This is among his shortest and easiest-to-read books. I believe that the length and simplicity was intentional on his part because he wanted this self management book to be read by everyone!
Lou Holtz and the Importance of Planning Goals
The Importance of Goals — Lou Holtz Talks and Writes About Goal-Setting
Some people are better than others at motivating individuals to do what they don't really want to do. When ranking the best in this field, Lou Holtz is at or near the top of any list I could assemble. While there might be a broad consensus that goal setting is valuable and important, this activity also regularly ranks high on lists of activities that people dislike doing in actual practice. As you might imagine, that translates to fewer individuals following through and doing the heavy lifting required to successfully formulate and actuate their goals. The Lou Holtz book and video featured here should help reduce or eliminate this critical problem.
In the video shown above, Lou Holtz does a thorough and effective job of describing why plans and goals are so important. Among the key success elements that he identified are having a passion to succeed and embracing change. Here is a superb book that contains some of his best strategies for becoming successful. His advice is timeless and directly relevant to helping assemble your I Plan.
Summary: Individual Planning Strategy
- Start the I Plan process by asking questions
- Set goals
- Create an individual career transition plan
- Modify as needed for career planning strategy
- Don’t forget Plan B
Planning to Make Better Choices and Decisions
Formulating an I Plan first and foremost requires navigation through a series of choices and decisions. Many of us are missing the necessary skill set to do this, so obtaining help in one form or another is generally a prudent part of the process.
Four key components of an I Plan are the following:
For any individual involved in preparing their personal Plan B, all four of these skills will be critical to success.
The Plan: Improve Business Writing
Making Smarter Choices: Change Management
Another key part of the I Plan process is change management because an I Plan should be designed to be flexible in the face of ongoing personal and business changes. The significant change seen in banking, real estate and the overall economy during the past 10 years has been striking by any measure. It is precisely this kind of change environment that makes the concept of "Plan B" so instrumental to anyone trying their best to cope with massive change.
"Always Have a Plan B" is sound advice for most personal and business activities. The concept does not always come naturally to everyone, so be prepared to devote some extra attention to developing a Plan B mentality. Acquiring a Plan B mindset is likely to pay personal dividends in many other ventures beyond an I Plan.
Having a personal Plan B does not mean to put your life on autopilot, but it should make you better prepared for changes and uncertainty in general. If there is one element that we should all expect to experience as we move forward with our life and career, it is uncertainty.
Military to Civilian Transition
There have always been difficulties when military personnel go through an employment transition from military service to civilian careers. But during the past 10 years, the military to civilian transition has exhibited even more problems. The video shown below summarizes some of the career transition problems to avoid as well as potential solutions. Some of the most practical strategies involve avoiding traditional approaches that are no longer cost-effective for many career paths.
Solutions for Career Transitions
One More Thing: If Not You Then Who?
Many businesses have become almost totally irresponsible when it comes to taking care of their customers and employees. Banks are the poster child example of what I am referring to, but this really amounts to a long list when you start ticking off the way that companies (especially bigger ones) have mistreated clients and workers alike.
If it helps, think of the shockingly true stories revealed in movies like "Silkwood" and "Erin Brockovich." Perhaps when you are contemplating whether some version of an I Plan is really needed, you should watch those films for a true dose of reality. Then return to more recent times and recall Enron, Countrywide Mortgage, British Petroleum, JP Morgan Chase and the many others like them that we simply haven't heard about yet because they haven't been caught.
The point is this: An individual should not trust that their best interests are served by their employers anymore. You need to do this. You really do.
When you're through learning, you're through.
— John Wooden
© 2012 Stephen Bush
I Plan Comments
Reena Dhiman on September 09, 2014:
I Plan this is new term for me and understand that how much is important for career. I recommended to all for implement this I plan in your career.
Brittanie Anne from Seattle WA on August 03, 2012:
I think I plans are a great idea a wonderful way to keep your goals in check nice hub.