Saturday, 14 March 2015



A module for diploma students, in-service courses for teachers and corporate training.

This is a practical exercise to give participants experience in planning within a given time frame. The work will cover a range of practical exercises from arranging a party, a church fete and construction of a road.

It will focus on Time Management with mention of Crisis Management by which the events overtake the planning.

Major Bruce Copeland BA BEdSt Royal Australian Army Educational Corps (Retd) 

Chapter 1  Beginning of Time Management training

I have been involved with Time Management (TM)  training for 40 years from the time I was an officer instructor at the Joint Services College in Lae, Papua New Guinea and had the job of conducting training in administration.

I had been involved with this country for some time and was well aware of the humourous reference to PNG standard time. A person who promised to arrive by 9.00am would probably arrive by 11.00am PNGST. No apologies. That was early.

So I included Time Management in the syllabus. My first real experience with TM had come with the standard Australian Army planner that consisted of a large wall chart covering 12 months.

The officer would have his administration corporal mark in the events with felt pen and arrowed lines:

2-12 February 1976.   Field day
4-6 February  1976     Issue of equipment
18-23 March 1976      Exercise Long Day
12-14 April 1976        Visit from Australian staff
23-26 May 1976         Field test
18-22 June 1976         Exercise Find the Enemy
12-14 July1976           Training for senior graduation
14 July 1976               Senior graduation march out
23-2 August 1976       Stock take
19-23  Oct    1976      Field signals training
12-14  Nov 1976         Parade training for graduation
25 Nov 1976               Graduation

You will notice that there are concurrent activities in this planner. There will be space to insert two or more arrowed lines in the same day spaces.

I brought basic Time Management to the senior Officer Cadets of the College in Lae. It was personal Time Management not the variety used by industrialists building skyscrapers, ships and aircraft.

There was no need for Critical Path Analysis and PERT Charts. That was too complex for basic planning in the military. Each students was asked to buy a pocket diary as part of the course.

They were required to mark in the weeks of the college year with lined arrows vertically down the diary pages to mark in the activities for the year. There would be a line down from 18-23 March to mark in Exercise Long Day.

Every two weeks, there would be a progress test in Administration. The last question would ask for 5 marks – Would you be able to attend a Football Conference in Week 32 on Thursday Night?

The class full of diaries would come out with the response of “No. I will be on Exercise Find the Enemy”. Over the years, several senior officers have told me that they have never forgotten the skills in Time Management in 38 years.

My first real experience of Time Management came with my term as President of the Taraka International School Board in 1977.

One of the Board members was a lecturer at the University of Technology and introduced me to the Action Agenda which changed my life as a planner, even today.

I would sit quietly at the Board table with a sheet of paper and three ruled columns NO.ITEM – ACTION – BY WHOM. Presidents or Secretaries should not be Action scribes. The scribe should be free to focus only on tasks.

I found at these meetings and subsequent meetings in my life that I was the practical one who could quickly work out the action steps.

ITEM                                ACTION                     BY WHOM

23. Library Books            Arrange quote                       Bill
                                         for next meeting
24. New teacher               Meet Frid 2 Mar                Executive
                                         in conference room
                                         Escort applicants                   Mary
25. Gravel for path          Truck to get gravel                Tom
                                         Lay gravel  6 Mar             All men
26.  Next meeting            Thurs 6 Apr 4.00pm             All                                         
27.  Agenda                     Fete report
                                        Grass cutting schedule
                                        Outstanding agenda items

Chapter 2   Return to Australia

On return to Australia, I lived in a small country town. Within a year, I was President of the Church Parish Council. Once again the Action Agenda turned the Council into an action body.

Within two days of the meeting, every committee member received an Action Agenda with one month to do the jobs. The Parish Council ran like a well oiled engine. Again, I preferred not to be President.

At meetings, it became my job to cut in with practical action questions. Many of the committee members just wanted to talk:

Ah yes we really do need gravel in the car park. I was saying that to Tom last week. You know we have had more rain this month than ever before this time of year. Last week I came to church and slipped in a large pool of water.

Action Agenda scribe: Who can bring wheelbarrows? Can we use your truck Tom? Mary can you give Tom a purchase order for 3 yards of gravel to Melbourne Sand and Gravel?

There was a Heritage Festival in the town. Within a week of setting up the Committee, I was asked to be the Secretary. I said no. Secretaries write letters. I write only Action Agenda.

It took 6 months to plan and hold the Heritage Festival. It took 473 Actions all duly accounted for and ticked off. We still have not done Item 295. John, have you got that quote yet? I will have it for next meeting. Sorry.

Chapter 3  Time Management tools

So far, I have introduced 3 time management tools. There was the pocket diary, wall planner for all to see and Action Agenda for the committee to keep to the jobs at hand.

The pocket diary was for the user to keep track of appointments and yearly events. It was a planner with events marked in by vertical arrowed lines. It enabled the user to keep track of and plan for concurrent activities.

17-24 June   Visit to military bases
20-22 June   Barracks stock take.

The wall planner was a large diary but kept on the wall in the commander’s office to be referred to during meetings. Again the commander and all officers were aware of concurrent activities. The wall planner can also be called a Gantt Chart.

The Action Agenda was a sequential list of actions with the tasks described and to be completed by whom. There were no concurrent activities laid down.

The only requirement was that the tasks 34 -51 had to be completed within the month between the meeting and the next. It may be that many tasks were done concurrently by different committee members but that is their decision. Check of Actions was the first task for the next meeting.

The Gantt Chart is a planner like the wall planner. It is like a calendar but is called by a different name as it has a different function from a calendar.

It lays out activities in sequential order not just days of the month. It can be for any time frame from a month to a year or 5 years. Please click:

Gantt Charts - Project Management Tools from MindTools.coM › Project Management Gantt Charts are a popular project planning and scheduling projects. Learn how to use them with our five-step process and video.

Gantt chart - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The commander can have a way of showing activities completed and outstanding. The Gantt Chart gives a diagrammatic way of keeping track of activities within the set time frames.

The Critical Path Charts and PERT Charts have never been stressed in my courses except to use some of the diagram forms. Nodes and arrows form a tight diagram of concurrent activities that can demonstrate basic tasks to students. Please click:

Critical Path Analysis and PERT Charts - Mind Tools › Project Management
As with Gantt Charts , Critical Path Analysis (CPA) or 
the Critical Path Method (CPM) helps you to plan all tasks 
that must be completed as part of a project

Basic activities of an organization do not need Critical Path. There is a straight line in most daily activities. With sequential tasks, each step relies on completion of the step before.

Critical Path is of most value in large tasks of ship building, construction of a sky scraper or an airliner. There are steps to complete, some concurrent with some relying on completion of tasks on another line.

There was once a ship building company in Australia whose workers planned to take over all duties from the engineers overseeing and directing the construction of a ship.

But they found to their horror that they could not follow the massive Critical Path Chart on the wall with thousands of tasks. They all went back to their duties in the shipyard, more than a little humbled.

Criticism is made of Critical Path Method that if there are delays and the critical path is delayed, then the planning has to be done again.

It comes down to the fact that there is a pathway of tasks that wait on the completion of other tasks. To do these out of order is to cause problems in construction and unnecessary costs.

The ship cannot be constructed and sealed before the engines go in. The ship is made in three segments. Many tasks have to be completed before the segments are joined.

Chapter 4  Crisis Management

Crisis Management is the opposite side of the coin to Time Management. In war time, it can be difficult for armies to plan activities step by step.

It is important for the higher command to anticipate enemy movements so as to base their own troop movements on an accurate plan.

Let us use the example of the Australians in New Guinea at the start of 1942. There was complete lack of preparedness by the Australian command.

Time Management was impossible due to lack of training, supplies not ready and no air transport.

It is easy to be wise after the event in appraising the Australian war effort on Kokoda. If only the higher command were able to know that the Japanese would attack by mid-1942.

Australian troops would need to be in country by September 1941. The AIF would be brought home from the Middle East by March 1942.

All Australian troops would carry out jungle training from January – April 1942. The supplies of clothing, boots and socks would be ready. The advance guard would move up the Kokoda Track by May 1942 with forward positions already dug by June.

It could not happen that way. War is intended to push the enemy into crisis management and defeat. Soldiers go from crisis to crisis. The D-Day invasion was far better planned in Time Management but there was time to plan and deploy.

Chapter 5 Time Management in this country

More than any other skill in Papua New Guinea, Time Management is a key requirement. Strict following of time has not been a cultural necessity from the days of the ancestors.

A standard approach to completion of a task is to start and to go on until the finish. If the start is late, the work just goes on. If resources are not available, then there is time to sit and wait.

There is now a strong building industry working to raise tall buildings of modern design. The supervisors are expatriates who bring strong Time Management skills to the job.

Time costs money. Builders have to get the job done within the agreed time frame. From the view of a non-skilled by-stander, modern buildings are complex with the stages of construction not unlike a massive meccano set.

There is the necessity of construction for the South Pacific Games to be completed for the start of games in July 2015.

This would have been a massive project in Time Management with perhaps 20 concurrent construction projects underway.

That would have required skilled engineers to coordinate construction. But more than one construction company would be employed which would simplify planning

Each site would require workers, machinery and building materials.

Only this year, there has been the road construction from 9 mile to Erima, made more difficult by collapse of sections of the road due to flooding. The plan below is the work of yours truly, expert amateur.

Building of a road as from Erima to 9 Mile

contracts and permits completed.
survey road to be built.
decide on alternative roads and connections for traffic.
decide on houses to be removed.
advise tenants to vacate within a given time.
make crossings of any rivers on the route for traffic.
repair bridges
block off one side of the road
allow traffic to use other side of the road.
begin preliminary grading of both sides of the road
remove houses to be demolished in path of road.
remove obstacles on side of road.
grade road on one side, place gravel and flatten
close off this side of road and allow traffic to flow.
complete other side of road.
lay bitumen.
allow bitumen to dry.
close other side of road
lay bitumen
allow bitumen to dry.
government inspectors examine work done.

But Time Management is essential for all workers involved in planning from construction of a high rise building to organizing a company Christmas party.

The important task is to plan the start having worked back from all tasks leading to the finish point. Time should be set aside for delays.

Then the job has a chance to finish on time. There is no value in planning a work Christmas party from a starting point on 13 December. The Committee should have started planning in September.

Preparation for an Christmas party

decision made by management on date and venue.
party to be put in the hands of a planning committee.
committee to meet 3 months before Christmas.
decisions on food, drinks, Santa Claus, gifts and entertainment.
advice to workers to fill out form with ages and gender of children.
santa claus to be appointed.
forms given in and details of children and children’s gifts.
collect Santas clothes.
confirm venue.
arrange security guards for food and gifts.
arrange person to look after games for the kids.
move food and gifts to venue.
arrange transport for Santa.
welcome guests.
put out drinks and food.
children to play games.
santa to arrive and gifts given out.
speech by Managing Director.
guests leave at end of night.
venue cleaned up by committee

Planning and Time Management has to start from the finishing point and work back. That is culturally unheard of in Papua New Guinea. In this country there is a tendency to start when we start and finish when we finish.

Years ago I heard a slogan: " If you volunteer at a meeting, you end up in the Actions". Now we all know what that means.

No.       Item                    Action                                     By Whom

123       Trophies             Engrave for next meeting        Mary

It is a great way to make a new committee member feel welcome. Mary has only been on the committee for four weeks and is already in the Actions. It also spreads the work load among members. As the Actions scribe, my name used to go down in the Actions too. I would tremble if I forgot to do my job. The entire committee was a slave to the Action Agenda.


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