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How a Little Planning Beats a Lot of Firefighting: Use simple planning skills to transform your productivity

How a Little Planning Beats a Lot of Firefighting: Use simple planning skills to transform your productivity

by Fergus O'Connell

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If you’ve ever been told that you ‘have to do more with less’ or ‘work smarter not harder’ and wondered what these things are supposed to mean, this book gives you the answer.

It shows how a little planning - normally thought of as being the preserve of large undertakings, great construction projects or huge sporting events or military offensives – will indeed enable you to get more done with less effort.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781472119070
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: 05/07/2015
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Fergus O'Connell has a First in Mathematical Physics from University College Cork and is one of the world’s leading authorities on project management. His company – ETP ( - and his project management method – The Ten Steps – have influenced a generation of project managers. In 2003 this method was used to plan and execute the Special Olympics World Games, the world’s biggest sporting event that year. He holds two patents. Fergus is the author of thirteen business and self-help books.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xv

Preface xvii

The Promise of the Book xvii

Doing Without Doing xviii

The Structure of the Book xix

How to Use the Book xix

Part 1 Planning For Yourself

1 Why You Wouldn't Cook Dinner Like You Do Your Job 3

It's Dinnertime 3

How Many Times Have You Done It? 4

There's Always a Sequence of Events 5

Go Do It! 6

Planning Time Taken 6

2 Why You Should Only Say 'sure' When You're Buying Deodorant 7

Predicting the Future - It's a Risky Business 7

Missiles - Ballistic and Cruise 9

'Sure' is a Four-Letter Word 11

Go Do It! 12

Planning Time Taken 12

3 What (Exactly) Do they Want? 13

Boxes and Clouds 13

Stakeholders and Win-Conditions 15

Figure Out (Exactly) What They Want 16

Example 1 16

Example 2 18

Go Do It! 22

Planning Time Taken 22

4 What Do You Have To Do? 24

Duration and Work 24

Estimating Properly 25

A Bad Example 28

A Good Example 28

What About Project Management Software Tools? 34

Calculating the Budget 35

Go Do It! 36

Planning Time Taken 38

5 Who's Gonna Do It? 39

Supply and Demand 39

Who's Going to Do It? 40

What's Their Availability? 40

Doing a Dance Card 41

Example 44

Herding Cats 44

Go Do It! 44

Planning Time Taken 46

6 What If Something Goes Wrong? 47

Making the Plan Bullet-Proof 47

Contingency 48

Risk Analysis 50

Go Do It! 54

Planning Time Taken 54

7 Giving Them What They Want 55

The Plan Says We're Good 55

The Plan Says We're Not Good 55

What if that Doesn't Work? 60

Becoming a Magician 61

Desperate Remedies 66

Go Do It! 71

Planning Time Taken 72

8 Getting It Done 73

Getting the Jobs Done 73

Tracking the Project 75

Reporting the Status 77

Doing a Post-Mortem So Go Do It! 81

Planning Time Taken 82

Part 2 Planning For Your Organization

9 Why Fate Runs Most Organizations 85

10 Step 1 - Just How Good Are You? 89

1 Decide What Period of Time You Want to Look At 90

2 Make a List of All of the Projects 90

3 Figure Out the Status of Each Project 92

4 Calculate the Organizational Performance Indicator (OPI) 94

Example - The Acme Company 95

Example - Step 1: Measure Where You Are 97

Scaling Up/Scaling Down 104

At-a-Glance Summary 104

11 Step 2 - Estimate the Demand 105

1 Estimate the Projects as Described in Chapter 4 106

2 Estimate the Projects Based on Their Life Cycle 106

3 Use The How Many People?/How Long?/ Full-Time Or Not? Method 108

4 Estimate The Projects Using Small/Medium/ Large 108

Example - Step 2: Measure the Demand 109

Scaling Up/Scaling Down 111

At-A-Glance Summary 111

12 Step 3 - Measure The Supply 113

Calculating the Supply-Demand Ratio (SDR) 113

Example - Step 3: Measure the Supply 114

Scaling Up/Scaling Down 115

At-A-Glance Summary 115

13 Step 4 - Prioritize the Projects 116

1 If I Could Only Do One Thing, What Would it Be? 117

2 Identify the Factors Which Make Up the Prioritization Decision 118

Example - Step 4: Prioritize the Projects 119

Scaling Up/Scaling Down 121

At-A-Glance Summary 121

14 Step 5 - Make The Cut 122

Why Sustained Overtime is Bad for Productivity 122

How to Make the Cut 124

Example - Step 4: Prioritize the Projects 125

Scaling Up/Scaling Down 133

At-A-Glance Summary 133

15 Step 6 - Keep it Going 134

Make Sure that the Project Has a Good Plan 135

Staff the Projects 135

Deal With New Projects 136

Report On the Projects 137

Example 137

At-A-Glance Summary 144

Afterword 145

Notes 146

Index 147

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