Create Successful Schedules: Three Tips to Rolling Wave Planning

Create Successful Schedules: Three Tips to Rolling Wave Planning

Do you ever feel under pressure to finish “all” of whatever this project is? And, the project might unfold in various ways, so you can't quite plan “all” of it? Enter rolling-wave planning. You don't have to know everything. You only have to know where you want to go and the first few steps to achieve that goal.

Tip 1: Define Your End and Interim Goals or Milestones

I like to start my rolling wave plan with the end in mind (HT to Steven Covey). I almost always have some kind of a goal for a project: finish a book, finish a workshop/talk, finish a specific type of project.

A job search project is a little different because there, your goal is finding a job you can accept. You're not in charge of the job offer—you're only in charge of your process.

What's your first interim goal? Here are some of my current interim goals:

  • Finish the promo video for each of my new virtual workshops.
  • Finish the chapter in the distributed agile teams book.
  • Finish my September and October presentations.

Some of these goals are farther out—the September and October work—and some are closer in, such as the chapter in the current book.

Once you know your goal(s), think about how much planning makes sense for you, the duration of your wave.

Tip 2: Decide on the Duration of Your Wave

I prefer a rolling wave of anywhere from one week to four weeks in duration. I ask myself these questions:

  • How far out can I reasonably plan, where I know enough about what I need to finish?
  • How often do I need to replan, because I'm working with someone else or I have deliverables?

The more I need to work with others or replan, the shorter my rolling wave.

Tip 3: Plan Enough Detail for Your Wave

If you have a three-week rolling wave, plan the next three weeks in detail. As you complete the first week, you'd add the details for the fourth week. You always have a three-week plan—the wave. And, you haven't planned so much that you have to throw it all away.

That's it. Simple idea, simple execution. Powerful approach to planning and replanning.

If you try rolling wave planning, let me know how it works for you.

Learn With Johanna

I'm still organizing my virtual workshops. I'll announce them as I understand my platform better.

Changes to the Pragmatic Manager!

If you're a long-time reader, you might notice I've changed mailing list vendors (again)! My emails may not have gotten through to you. You might want to see previous issues.

Are you new to the Pragmatic Manager newsletter? See previous issues.

Here are links you might find useful:
My Books
Online Workshops
Coaching
Managing Product Development Blog
Create an Adaptable Life
Johanna's Fiction

Till next time,
Johanna

© 2018 Johanna Rothman

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