Several years ago, when I was a newly qualified youth worker I was introduced to a planning tool that revolutionised the way I planned everything from my 3-year youth strategies to individual 30-minute youth work session. Since leaving youth work this planning tool has been a core tool in helping me build my business and maintain my focus. I’ve had the chance to share this with a few people recently and the response has been very positive so I thought I’d share this with my wider readership. I hope you find this useful.
I want to introduce to NAOMIE – the ultimate in planning tools.
Here’s how it works:
In order to plan anything you have to understand what NEED a certain activity is going to fulfil.
Once you’ve identified the need you have your AIM which, simply, is to meet the need.
Your core aim is then broken down into smaller, more manageable OBJECTIVES.
When you’ve worked those out you can then decide what your METHODS are – what are you going to practically to do meet your objectives?
It’s then always good to think through your INDICATORS – the signposts you’re looking out for that tell you you’re on the right track.
And then, finally, there needs to be some EVALUATION so you know how effective or successful your activity has been.
Does that makes sense? Let me give you a really simple example… how to make a cup of tea NAOMIE style!
How to make a cup of tea: your need
So the first thing to do is work out what my need is. This, surprisingly, is the most difficult part of the whole process.
In effect what you need to do is work out the core need you want to the activity or strategy to meet. So in this case, the need is not “I need a cup of tea” but even more fundamental than that.
Your core need is that you are thirsty.
When planning any activity or devising a strategy it’s really easy to get stuck into big ideas or small details and lose the perspective of ‘what need are we actually trying to meet? what’s the fundamental purpose of this undertaking?’ When you understand what need you are trying to meet, you will be more focussed on the solution and the evaluation will be a simpler process. You will also be able to be more effective in the methodology – the practical steps you will take to meet the need.
How to make a cup of tea: your aim and objective
Now you’ve identified your core need, your aim is clear and simple – you are aiming to quench your thirst.
But there a myriad of different ways of doing that (water, coffee, a cold drink, etc) so you now need to think through how you’re going to quench your thirst. This is your objective. In this example your objective is to make a cup of tea.
How to make a cup of tea: your methods
Note that at this stage we have not set out any practical steps to meeting the need. All we have done is identified our need and worked out the activity that, we feel, will best meet our need.
So now it’s time to get into the detail of the plan: the methodology.
In this (somewhat silly) example, the methodology is simple: pour water into kettle and turn kettle on; place tea bag into mug and pour the boiling water into the mug. Stir the tea bag until liquid is the desired colour, remove the teabag and add milk and sugar according to preference. Drink the tea.
How to make a cup of tea: the indicators
The one critical thing I learned as a youth worker all those years ago was to think through what indicators I’d need to look for to ensure my plan was on track. As business owners it’s really easy to look at the endgame without taking time to assess how we’re doing in the meantime. Key indicators in, for example, a marketing strategy might be to look at how many click-throughs you’re getting on your email campaign or how many ‘Likes’ your social media posts are receiving. In an SEO campaign your indicators may be additional hits to your website or the fact that you’re now on page two rather than page three of Google. Equally, if you’re on page three and you drop to page four then you need to be flagging this up and asking some questions as to why. So, when planning any activity work out what indicators you will look for and use those as your measuring sticks. In our basic example the indicator is easy: was a cup of tea made? Yes / No.
How to make a cup of tea: evaluation
Finally, once the activity is completed (and, if appropriate, during the activity if it’s an ongoing piece of work) there needs to be a process of evaluation which centres around ONE fundamental question: did this activity meet the need? The answer to that question will then provoke other lines of discussion but you have to be able to answer that critical question if nothing else. So, I successfully made a cup of tea but was my thirst quenched? If the answer is yes then all well and good. But if the answerer is no then I need to be asking other questions? Why not? Did I make enough tea? Was tea really the right drink to quench my thirst? If not, what drink would I make next time I was thirsty? Did I not make the tea right and it was too strong? What would I do differently next time?
Now, I appreciate, that the example is quite basic and simplified but the theory remains the same regardless of the size of the activity. I’ve used NAOMIEs to plan everything three-year strategies to event planning, from a planning and launching a youth mentoring scheme to a single session lasting 30 minutes. I’ve found that, when I plan using a NAOMIE, my activity is more focussed, I am clearer of thought and intention, my methods are more precise and the outcomes are far more in line with what I set out to do. In a couple of weeks time I’ll be following this up with a more detailed NAMOIE but my challenge to you is this: once this month plan an activity using a NAOMIE and let me know in the comments below how you got on.