The Natural Planning Model is a five stage planning process by best-selling author David Allen. It is an informal approach to project planning which can be used of projects of any size and type.
The Natural Planning Model
According to David Allen, regardless of task size, the human brain works through five phases to solve a problem. When these phases are worked together, they create a whole model of how we get things done most effectively, with the least amount of effort. The five steps are:
- Defining purpose and principles
- Outcome visioning
- Identifying next actions
Define a purpose
The purpose should reflect primary criteria for making decisions about goals, organization and priorities of the project. A real intention, something that you need to have or occur to happen. What is the main reason this thing exists? Or: whats is the primary purpose for this event? Why am I, or are we, really doing this?
Envision the outcome
The vision is a long-term goal or objective. It describes what it looks like when the outcome is manifested. The successful outcome has a finish line and a time frame for its achievement. View the project from beyond the completion date. Keep it at least 50% believable, but envision with passion. Envision wild succes. Think: what would the ideal outcome be for me, the customer, my team, my family, my company, my community and even the world? Capture the features you envision in a system.
Brainstorm the ideas
What are all the things that come to mind about making the project happen. The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas. A few example questions to ask:
- Whose input do we need?
- Has anything like this done before?
- How will this affect our competitive position?
- Who’s accountable for the project’s success?
- What people do we need?
- What will this cost?
- What is the timing?
- How will we monitor progress?
- What tools do we need?
- What is the best/worse idea we can imagine about this project?
Now you have come up with all of these ideas during your brain dump you have to put this in a system. Do so by identifying and sorting the components, sequence and priorities. Use simple lists, outlines, project planning forms, charts and project planning software.
Identity next actions
Now it is time to identity next actions. What is the very next action on each of the current moving parts of the project? What is the next action on the planning process? What would be the next physical action to perform. List these next actions.