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You Need a Holistic Action Plan

In this essay, I’ll explain why I think that to get things done, a holistic action plan is necessary. This essay is an argument in support of the “Procedures for Managing an Objective” section of my Business Manual.

If you are like the professionals I’ve worked with, you probably use (or used, until after we worked together) a half-dozen or more tools to keep track of instructions on what to do, and another set of tools, or often nothing, to keep track of what you’ll accomplish by doing things.

It’s taken me a long time to come to view it this way, but I think that for someone - you - to succeed at doing something, for yourself or as part of an organization, you need a holistic action plan: a set of information that provides instructions on what to do, and information about what you’ll accomplish by doing the thing. This helps your work feel meaningful.

Breaking each of those down:

For tracking instructions on what to do, you might use Google Calendar and Docs, Trello, Basecamp, Omnifocus, Gantt charts, ticketing systems, and so on. For tracking what you’ll accomplish, you might use some of those tools, but I’ve seen a lot of businesses where their objectives are only tracked through word-of-mouth.

There are a lot of tools that promise to solve that problem, and a lot of them do offer a lot of value to solving a problem, but I’ve never seen a software tool become more than just an element in a larger toolkit.

There is one thing that I believe solves the problem: a solid set of procedures for maintaining an action plan: a single document which serves a central and common store of the information. I think this action plan should be holistic: have all the parts that anyone would need to not only do the thing, but know why they’re doing the thing.

(This is related to my Personal Directive #012 which says, basically, to keep all related information together.)

In the “Procedures for Managing an Action” section of my Business Manual, I detail how I build and maintain such an action plan, but here I’ll explain some of the objectives I’m aiming for in those procedures:

Editorial and License Information

My name is emsenn and I wrote this essay for the benefit of the commons. To the extent possible under law, I have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to it. If you're viewing it on a remote server, you're encouraged to download your own copy. Essays like this are made possible with financial support from readers like you. Thank you. To read more of my work and to learn more about me, visit