Thoughts, Feelings

It Can’t Be Business As Usual: Plot Your Garden

 This article was co-authored by Lucas Gobert.

idea - PLAN - action

Following CACUSS, whether you attended or not, we challenged you to take an idea and share it with us, even if that idea was just a wee seedling. Then, we asked you to join us for a walk and talk more about that idea, because talking with others gives life to your idea by prompting new perspectives and springboarding you to areas you may not have thought of before. Now, it’s time to plot out the next steps that will move your idea into the planning phase; here, we plot out our garden so that we ensure we’re giving it the right attention, nourishment, and space to grow.

The planning phase of a project can be, however, a bit less exciting than the initial idea-formation phase. When you have an idea, it’s new and exciting, something intriguing that can take you anywhere. But moving into planning means you must confront how to put your idea into action and consider details and challenges that might, in the worst case, discourage you from pursuing it. But, if you infuse your planning phase with others’ input, set realistic goals and specific tasks, and find sources of creative motivation, you can keep inspired throughout the process.

You can’t avoid thinking about the difficult parts: you must confront the challenges your project will face. Do you have enough time for the project? Do you have the resources? Confronting these challenges can sometimes dampen your spirits; but with a good foundation, your project can weather whatever wrench gets thrown at it. And by considering these wrenches in advance, you’re more likely to overcome them in the future, and keep your project moving. So, to keep the momentum you originally felt when that idea sparked within you, we had a couple questions prepared for our walk that, if you missed out, you can use to guide your next steps in the planning process:

  • What excites you about your project or idea?
  • Is there something that inspires your idea, and will inform its development?
  • What challenges or obstacles do you anticipate facing?
  • To whom can you reach out to help you or provide insights?
  • What are the next steps you need to take?

You may not plan the same way we do, so whatever process you’re currently working with is probably already getting the job done. But, it’s key that you do plan. Regardless of what type of planning works best for you, the best processes will involve the following parts to move your project from an idea into a plan:

Summary & Objective

What will this project entail (What are you doing? What is it about?), and what are your objectives? Who is the target audience?


Why are you creating this project? Who will it impact, and how? What gaps does it fill?


How will you pull it off? What are the different, specific components? Explore any needs that might be involved: marketing, social media, stakeholders, leaders, content, strategy, etc.

Challenges & Obstacles

What challenges or obstacles do you anticipate facing? By anticipating them beforehand, you can take measures to overcome them when they arise.

Action Items

Turning your answers to the above questions into action items is key to actually getting the work done. Knowing in concrete terms what you need to do, broken down into smaller steps, is what really transitions a project from “idea” into “plan.”

Join us on Thursday July 09, 2015 @ 12:00pm to Plot Your Garden.

To encourage each other in plotting out the next phases of our ideas, we’re inviting you to our “Plot Your Garden” picnic event at Allen Gardens at lunchtime on July 9, 2015. Bring a brown-bag lunch and meet us outside Jorgenson Hall. We’ll be sharing our own strategies for planning, offering suggestions to any interested, and would love to hear how you’re planning your project. Whether you were able to join us for Walk the Talk or not, come out and chat with us about what stage you find yourself in making your idea become a reality.

Watch for the rest of It Can’t Be Business As Usual coming this summer:

June 01: It Can’t Be Business As Usual… article goes live on
June 23: Walk the Talk event. (12:30pm-1:30pm in the Quad.)
June 30: Plot Your Garden article goes live on
July 09: Plot Your Garden event.
July 20: Tend Your Garden article goes live on
August 03: “RyersonSA, how does your garden grow?”
August 05: Let It Grow! article goes live on

  • John Austin

    I’m really digging this metaphor. Love the ingenuity, the creativity, and the appeal to encourage people to take action from their conference learnings! Thanks, Tesni & Luke!