Plan, Organize and Follow Through

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Christopher S. McCollor
  • 412th Test Wing command chief
Kickoff complete; the ball is in the air. You've organized your players so the receiver is back to catch the ball and all players are in position.

The plan: Receiver catches the ball and falls in behind the others who form a wedge. If everyone follows through with their assignments the receiver will follow the wedge of blockers up field and the result will be a touchdown - you're ultimate goal. Sounds easy? Not so fast! The other team will also have a plan. They'll be organized to get inside your wedge, tackle your receiver and stop you from achieving your goal.

So it is with daily life. We begin with a plan, organize to achieve our goals and then follow through. The results rely on the degree of follow through. Even the best laid plans, with seemingly perfect organization, will succeed or fail based on the effort put forth in the execution.

For individuals or leaders of large organizations, the effectiveness of a carefully laid out plan rests squarely on the follow through of the people executing the plan. The Honorable Colin Powell in "The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell" says: "Organization doesn't really accomplish anything. Plans don't accomplish anything either. Theories of management don't much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved."

On a personal level, let's say your plan is to get your Community College of the Air Force degree. You drop by the Education Office and receive counseling on the courses you need to take. Then, you enroll in a college that offers all the classes you need. Your plan is in place. You're organized and have set in motion all the things needed to achieve your goal of a CCAF degree. All that's left is the follow through. This is where it gets tough. Opposing forces: work, social commitments, difficulty of the curriculum and the discipline required to stay current in your studies will all take their toll. Staying true to your original plan will require follow through on your part and likely the help and encouragement of others.

Within your organization, there's no better way to communicate a plan than a good, old-fashioned Roll Call. The basic premise of the Roll Call is to inform all the people involved in executing the day-to-day mission what the plan is and what individual part they will play. Rest assured, no one showed up to work planning to fail. Every player on the team wants to know the plan, where they fit into the organization and their specific role in the follow through. They want to be on the winning team and expect to be held accountable, but need to know what they are accountable for. Effective Roll Calls lay out the plan, communicate it to the organization and facilitate effective follow through.

Planning and organizing have their place in every task. To enter into any endeavor without either is foolhardy. Whether achieving a personal goal or executing our day-to-day missions, follow through will determine the degree of success. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved.