When do you know the least about something you’re working on? … At the beginning. When do you develop the plan for what you are about to work on? … At the beginning.
President Eisenhower’s quote may sound like great news for those who don’t like the tedious nature of writing a plan down. The thought behind this is deeper than that, and it certainly isn’t prescribing “wing it”. The process of planning allows for thought, expertise, intentions, and reflection to happen. Once the plan is written and put into play, the unforeseen elements start to unfold. With the planning fallacy driving overconfidence in our minds, you may find yourself spending all your effort proving why the plan was right and no longer working, rather than adjusting to the reality of what’s happening. No matter how hard you try, you cannot predict the future 100%. But don’t let this stop you from trying.
Every planning cycle allows you to reflect and learn about what you are trying to accomplish
Projects are great for discovering new things about the product, service, or process you are setting out to improve or create. Google defines discover as, “find (something or someone) unexpectedly or in the course of a search.” The discovery side of projects is often overlooked or left for some obscure “lessons learned” database that an organization has or one day aspires to hold. History has shown that more often than not:
There is more value in discovery over time than producing results in the moment
When is it least valuable to learn about something you’re working on? … At the end. When are “lessons learned” generally performed in a project? … At the end.
The trick is in figuring out how to increase the amount of times the planning process and lessons learned happens in an individual project. To accomplish this may require a mindset change on what the purpose of a project is. Look at projects as the primary means to discover, that just so happen to produce a result along the way…