Personal Construction

Gerwig 2014-01-13

Have you ever built anything? Most of you have built something. You might have built a house. Or a model car. Or a table. Or a bird-feeder. It might not have been something big, it might have been something small. Like a Christmas ornament. Or a card for your mom on Mother’s Day. Or a coffee mug for your dad’s birthday.

You have built things or, at a minimum, seen things being built. Even if you don’t personally have the skills to build a house, surely you’ve witnessed a house being constructed in your neighborhood. You might not be great with your hands, but surely you’ve seen a new restaurant, school, mall, fire station, or bridge being constructed? It’s possible (but not probable) that you’ve never witnessed a construction project. Granted, you might not have seen something being built on the magnitude of the Hoover Dam or the Panama Canal, but undoubtedly you’ve either personally built, or witnessed, something being built.

If you have first-hand experience building something, you know that having a set of plans helps. If you built a small bird-feeder for the birds (and squirrels!) in your backyard, you had a simple set of plans. If you built your own house, you had a set of drawings that you gave to the contractors. And if you built a large hospital, you had a very detailed set of blueprints.

The picture above shows a commercial/industrial building under construction. The green panels (I’m assuming they’re insulation panels) really stood out to me. The contrast in colors jumped out and I pulled the car over, got out and took a couple pictures. This construction project is in full swing. The contractors were even working on a Saturday and by the time I got back into my car, another panel had been installed. How cool! Before my very eyes, in real time, I could watch this building taking shape. I could see progress being made.

Sometimes, however, progress in construction can’t be so easily noticed. But whether progress is slow or fast, having a plan helps. In some instances it’s a necessity. Can you imagine building a nuclear power plant without a set of detailed plans? Or an airplane? Or a cruise ship? Or a commercial building? Or a football coliseum. Even a project as simple as a bird-feeder will go more smoothly and turn out better if the builder follows a set of plans.

Most organizations have some form of annual performance review process. One of the outcomes of this process (after the formal rating) is a development plan. I like to think of it as a Personal Construction Plan. It’s a plan for your personal grow and professional development. Even if you don’t work in a formal organization, you still need a Personal Construction Plan. As we began the new year, you may have developed a set of resolutions for the year. Great. What’s the plan? You may have developed a set of goals for the year. Great. What’s the plan?

You can make progress without a Personal Construction Plan. You can meet your resolutions and achieve your goals. But (and it’s a big BUT) you certainly won’t be as efficient, even if you are effective. And the reality is that you’re not likely to be as effective either.

Whether you develop a Personal Construction Plan based on your own self-assessment, 360 feedback, or some combination of both, recognize that you need a plan. Personal growth and professional development is best achieved using a powerful and simple approach borrowed from the world of continuous improvement. It’s the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle (PDCA). Create a Plan. Take action. Make adjustments. Do it again. Over and over.

As in any construction project, you will experience setbacks. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and a step back. Don’t give up. “Keep on keeping on.” If you experience a minor setback. Make necessary adjustments and keep going. If you experience a major setback. You know what to do. Make necessary adjustments and keep going.

If you buy building materials, pile them on the ground and come back in a year, what will you have? A pile of building materials. If you have a dream, but don’t have a plan that that you execute, what will have you in 5 years? A dream. If you want to enjoy the benefits of a completed project or to see your dream realized, you need a plan. And you need to execute the plan.

If you want to achieve personal growth and professional development, you need a Personal Construction Plan. Base the plan solely on your own assessment, that of others or a combination of both, but develop the plan. It’s the first step to growth. Without it, you’ll never enjoy the benefits of a completed project or a realized dream.

You have the materials. You have the time. A year from now, what will others see? Will there still be a pile of materials? A partially completed building? Or a fully completed masterpiece?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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