The Course of Action will determine the Activities that need to be conducted. Activities represent processes, actions, procedures, etc which are performed. They may be regular, in that they occur on a regular and predictable basis. They can also be irregular, in that they happen unpredictably as a planned response to something.
Activities will require certain Capabilities which will be discussed in more detail in the next section. Capabilities ensure that the Activities can be successfully carried out. If one does not have the Capabilities needed to perform an Activity, and cannot acquire those Capabilities, then the Activity will not be able to be successfully conducted.
Activities will also require a number of Resources to ensure they can be conducted. Resources may include time, money, people, hardware, software, etc. If one has the Capabilities to conduct an Activity, but not the Resources, then the Activity cannot be successfully conducted.
Let’s say that Jack and Jill chose the Course of Action that calls for them to set up a lemonade stand in front of Jack’s house. Since their Objective is to make $50 by providing fresh lemonade to their neighbors and friends, what Activities will need to be conducted to achieve this Objective that fall within the chosen Course of Action.
The Activities might be as follows.
- Set up and tear down table and chairs for lemonade stand each day.
- Purchase ingredients to produce 15 gallons of lemonade. “15 gallons of lemonade will result in $50 of profit at the planned price point”
- Manufacture fresh lemonade in 1 gallon batches each morning.
- Sell the lemonade.
Most likely there are other Activities that may be applicable, this illustrates what Activities are required in order to pursue the chosen Course of Action.
Let’s take each of the examples we used and the Course of Action I chose for each. I am going to list three key Activities for each. Remember there may be several more Activities that may need to be listed, but I am listing only three for this set of examples.
Example 1 OBJ: Bill will start and operate a wine bar in Toledo, Ohio. He will specialize in providing the largest selection of California varieties, which are underrepresented in the area. He will make at least $80,000 a year in profit from his wine bar.
Course of Action A: Bill will start and manage an independent wine bar under a brand he develops.
1. Develop relationships with suppliers
2. Scout out potential locations for the wine bar
3. Build a social media presence through website development and other platforms
“This is a great example of how choosing a different Course of Action can dramatically change the Activities to be conducted. Most likely if Bill had chose the franchise Course of Action it would have resulted in already established relationships with suppliers, templates for the wine bar would already be planned out, and a social media presence would already be in place.”
Example 2 OBJ: Kevin will build a decorative two story shed in the backyard of his house. It will have at least 100 square feet of space upstairs for storage which will reduce the clutter in the house.
Course of Action B: Kevin will hire the services of a carpenter to work on the shed.
1. Seek out carpenters that are able to do the work.
2. Make decisions as far as design and layout go.
3. Agree on a price with the carpenter.
Example 3 OBJ: Abigail will organize a fundraising dinner for the Doe family. The dinner will be prepared by a local restaurateur and there will be fun and games for everyone. The fundraiser will raise at least $10,000 for the Doe family.
Course of Action A: Abigail will gather a small group which will undertake all preparations.
1. Recruit members for the planning and prep group.
2. Delegate responsibilities to members of the planning and prep group.
3. Monitor performance and make adjustments as needed.
Example 4 OBJ: Susan will manage a project to improve productivity by at least 5% in the company. The project will focus on introducing soft improvements which require minimal resources to implement.
Course of Action A: The project will introduce new incentives to reward higher productivity.
1. Work with Human Resources and Executives to determine what Resources are available for this initiative.
2. Determine criteria for new incentives.
3. Develop implementation plans throughout the organization.
Example 5 OBJ: The average student test scores will improve by a total of 10%, from 76% to 86%, over the next three years.
Course of Action B: The course will be redesigned so that more time is spent on traditionally weak areas.
1. Examine the course and scout out weak points.
2. Do comparative analysis to determine how those weak points are addressed in more successful classes.
3. Redesign the course structure as needed based on Activities 1 and 2.
Example 6 OBJ: ACME will be the lowest cost provider of computer services in Dayton.
Course of Action B: ACME will focus on maintenance agreements and other long term relationships to keep prices low.
1. Determine which customers are candidates for the proposed maintenance agreement program.
2. Meet with customers and reach agreement with them.
3. Scale back and close out higher cost/lower margin customers.
Example 7 OBJ: The Jaguars will win at least 8 games this year.
Course of Action B: The Jaguars will focus on improving their preseason training.
1. Discuss adjustments with school administration and teachers to ensure it does not disrupt other goals.
2. Increase the number of sessions in the summer from 2 per week to 3 per week.
3. Introduce new summer home training regimen for players.
Example 8 OBJ: Scott will ensure that the team continues to produce 50 widgets per week and keep the quality scores above 95%.
Course of Action A: Scott will retain the previous methods and processes practiced by the team.
1. Have meetings with staff to ensure that management and culture align closely with that of the previous management.
2. Monitor performance to ensure production and quality remain consistent.
3. Make adjustments or changes as necessary to maintain previous production metrics.
Every one of the examples above may have several more Activities. The Activities will most likely also have several junior or sub Activities. This is one of the most extensive areas of the Framework. Managers can limit the input to the general macro Activities and go from there. Or they can break them down to each specific micro Activity. The extent to which Activities are listed depends on what is being managed and the manager utilizing the framework.
I personally utilize an ABC System in which I group collections of Activities into A Activities. B Activities components of A Activities. C Activities are components of B Activities. I find that this covers that vast majority of what an organization does, while keeping it relatively easy to navigate. Further breakdowns can be labeled as D, E, F, etc. as needed.
Based on the Current Situation and Current Issues, which will be discussed later, you may find it necessary to adjust and modify Activities. This will in turn adjust or modify the Resources and Capabilities required as well. In the next section we are going to take a look at Capabilities and explore in greater detail how they directly tie to these Activities.