Realistic Workplan

Realistic Workplan

Continued from a Previous post

There are four common areas to address when preparing to implement change in your organization:

  1. Pressure for Change
  2. A Shared Vision
  3. A Capacity to Translate to Execution
  4. A Realistic Workplan

Let’s talk about a Realistic Workplan.

What does a Realistic Workplan mean?

From the book – A Beautiful Constraint (Source: &Strategy – adapted by Michael Hay):

We need to have mapped out the practical steps it will take, with realistic expectations in terms of timing and outcomes.

A realistic project plan is the backbone of any project. The project plan represents all other elements – pressure for change, a common vision, and the capacity to deliver the plan – to ensure successful delivery. The plan maps the cadence of events and resource requirements during each stage. Most importantly, the workplan should be flexible enough to adjust as project components shift during implementation. For example, the plan should consider a loss of champion or critical executive sponsor.

Why is a Realistic Workplan significant?

A realistic project plan should accurately reflect all other elements.

Pressure for Change

The project plan should balance the need to see change with a realistic way of achieving that change. During the project, there will be moments where that pressure will be critical. Often, during the heaviest, most labor-intensive parts of the project – a reminder of Executive support helps drive end-users to overcome their anxiety.

Shared Vision

The vision should heavily drive the plan. A continuous focus on scope and deliverables should be embedded in the plan. Whether dealing with multiple silos at an organization or one political team, revisiting the vision is the only way to maintain a realistic pace for the project while driving towards the common goal.

A Capacity to Translate to Execution

The plan should encompass the resources need to execute on the plan. It is vital to consider the team when building out the plan. One cannot happen without the other. The project plan represents the capacity and should be flexible enough to extend if resourcing should become tight – during busy seasons, for example.


Once a plan has been influenced by all other areas – for it to be realistic – it needs to be flexible as the plan gets executed. There are always unknowns that occur during implementation and the key to keeping the plan realistic is the thoughtful consideration of those unknowns. For example, re-organizations, Champion and Executive sponsor changes, and a whole slew of other scenarios happen during an implementation. Success for the plan is entirely based on how flexible the plan can be to accommodate these changes. A plan cannot be considered realistic if it does not reflect current state in terms of resources, timelines, deliverables, and cost.

What happens when you don’t have it?

An unrealistic project plan could mean anything including complete project failure to “Great Hype/No results.” While the plan encompasses all other elements for success, it is the plan that defines the execution during an implementation – therefore it gets all the blame when something goes wrong.

In the end, a realistic plan has to incorporate all other elements for success. It has to consider pressure for change, the shared vision, the capacity to execute to be successful. It has to be flexible during the execution of it to accommodate changes. Without that – without flexibility – you’ll have something, but there may not be anyone to support its success.

Without the influence of a shared vision, capacity or executive pressure – you might as well use a project plan that you pulled off the internet.


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