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Planning for Success

‘Sounds like a plan, Stan!’ What is a plan? A plan is a statement, a starting point. Whether this be a plan to make a cup of tea in ten minutes or a plan to deliver a successful music project with a group of under fives. A plan is a plan is a plan.

Planning is something that should be very familiar to us Music Leaders.

Although planning should be an integral part of our Music leading life, it is not always an easy thing to do and not always a process that comes naturally.

Why do we as Music Leaders need to plan? There are a number of reasons why we need to have a plan for our work and projects:

• To satisfy our partners, employees, funders, colleagues, clients

• To achieve successful projects and partnerships

• To achieve outcomes and objectives whether collective or individual

• To evaluate our own development and skill set

• To remain focused and clear about the present and the future

• To ensure quality delivery of our work and projects

• To identify the impact of our work on ourselves, our partners and our audience

• To identify improvements, things that could be changed for the better

It is especially important in the changing musical landscape that is today, to plan in order to remain connected, relevant in terms of skills and delivery and informed of news and policies that could affect the future.

How can we ‘Plan for Success’? It is not always possible, no matter how well constructed your plan is, no matter how well you stick to your plan, to be successful; but a good plan will help.

Some of us may have a tried and tested method that has never failed and a system that we do not want to change. But for those of us who struggle to plan or who are open to a steer, this information might be useful!

Some things to consider when planning

• Identify your overall objective – from here you can start to see what you need to do to achieve that objective

• Ensure that all planning objectives are SMART – Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely

• Construct a realistic timeline for your plan including any important deadlines

• With a plan comes action; start with ‘I am here and I need to be …’ – define the actions that you need to take to get you ‘there’

• Identify any potential issues and problems that you could encounter and consider how you will overcome them

• Review your progress regularly, use a diary or keep up to date with a blog

• Make time and room in your plan for evaluation – this is the key to reviewing how a project was a success or identifying why some things didn’t work and what is needed to improve in the future

• Consider your resources, budget, time and the needs / wants of the group that you are working with (if applicable)

• Make sure that if needed, your plan considers the objectives of your partners, clients and funders

It is a good idea to try and stay focused and true to your plan however, it is also important to be ready to adapt your plan and make changes if needed.

You might want / need to make changes if: • Your plan doesn’t seem to fit your overall objective any longer

• Your plan doesn’t seem to be going in the direction you thought it would

• The group you are working with suggest improvements or something that would be really worthwhile including in your plan

It is better to adapt and tweak for the better along the way than to stick rigidly to a plan that you know isn’t right just for the sake of ‘following a plan’. Don’t feel like you can’t make any changes….. it’s your plan!

Helpful Resources • Youth Music Planning and Evaluation Resource Pack: http://network.youthmusic.org.uk/funding/evaluation-outcomes-approach

• Arts Council Arts Education Evaluation Toolkit: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/browse-advice-and-guidance/partnerships-for-learning-a-guide-to-evaluating-arts-education-projects

Forthcoming Training: • Music Leader Survival Guide Training – Part Two For experienced Music Leaders who feel they are getting to grips with the changing landscape of music education and want to explore existing business strategies further – includes some time getting to grips with project management. http://network.youthmusic.org.uk/near-you/training-events/musicleaders-survival-guide-part-two

Something to consider when the thought of ‘planning’ fills you with dread…

‘He who fails to plan is planning to fail’ Famous words from Winston Churchill.

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