Thought for the Day 3 July 2017
Someone once told me that “Planning is the art of inadequate people making inaccurate decisions based on fallacious information.” At the time I thought he was just revving me because I was a Project Manager, at the time. But, after a few years, and a couple of failed projects, I realized that there was a grain of truth in this cliché. I never had a project, where all my planning assumptions were correct, or all my planning parameters stayed constant through the project. (Fallacious Information)
Consequently, my decisions were, indeed, inaccurate. I came to the conclusion that I was inadequate, or, if I wasn’t, then definitely my planning method was inadequate. Then I came across contingency planning and things changed for the better. Contingency planning assumes that your input is flawed or incomplete and provides for extra resources in reserve for when things don’t work out the way you expected. It becomes more about shaping expectations than about getting the plan absolutely right.
A friend once told me that he’d had his hammer for twenty years. It had needed four new heads and eight new handles, but, in his mind, it was the same hammer. Contingency planning is a bit like that. Change is incorporated in the plan and so people are preconditioned to expect it. The trick is, with your contingency, your first plan is the worst the customer will ever see and it assumes that you will use all of the contingency.
The problem with all this stuff is that you spend a lot of time working on the plan and the planning process instead of the delivery of the required outcome. It could be argued that all of the planning process is a waste of time. And in all of this I’m not just talking about large projects in any industry. I’m talking about any set of tasks that are focused on delivering something new anywhere. It could be extending your house or organizing your holiday or moving to a new job, a new house or a new country.
So what’s the thought that comes out of all this?
It is simply this:
“The quickest and best way of getting things done is to focus ONLY on the tasks that are necessary and sufficient to achieve the required outcome!”
And, what this means is that you should focus on completing the minimum number of tasks that are required. Everything else is a distraction. (Even if it makes people feel good.)
Have a great day.