Because the information you have to work with will NEVER be completely adequate. It’s just the way the world is.
It is said that people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. But everyone plans, as they see it. Why don’t their plans work? Because their mental model is a Newtonian world, gears and levers, where you can completely know the world. So people plan, certain in their assumptions, confidently making linear projections of a known past into the future. Confidently off a cliff.
It’s not a gears & levers world: it’s a systems world, non-linear and not consistent with the past. You can’t know everything about anything. We can never have adequate information.
Compounding the problem is the nature of our written narratives, our ‘stories’, which we are taught to make logical and linear. As a result, once we start our plans, we can’t change.
This book applies visual tools to help us work with the non-linear nature of the world, techniques to help us track and adjust as events change our plans and our goals move.
Part I - Simple Tools
“The man who has planned badly, if fortune is on his side, may have had a stroke of luck, but his plan was a bad one nonetheless.” Herodotus
“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Dwight D. Eisenhower,
Chapter 1. Inadequate Information
Chapter 2. Information /Ideas
Chapter 3. Elegance, Design & Gaming
Chapter 4. Goals
Chapter 5. Modeling Events
Part II - Approaches & Ideas
Why so serious?
Make yourself a plan, and be a shining light. Then make yourself a second plan, for neither will come right.
Make a plan, tear it up, and you’ll have good luck all day.
A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow – proverb.
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
Chapter 6. Buffers, Constraints, Resources & Risk
Chapter 7. Stories
Chapter 8. Feedback
Chapter 9. Practicing Planning
Project Improvement is often easier than project success. After all, you have a process – something is happening and happening over and over. You can generally track what is happening and compare what is happening to what you want.
First, we need to know how critical the process is and how fragile it is before we start poking it.
Then, we start poking, which isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Many tools for assessing what is happening may not be what you think is happening. Once we know what is happening, thinking carefully about what we want the process to do better will make a huge difference. Is what we want it to do possible at a reasonable price?
According to PMBOK 5, “A Risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a Project’s Objectives.”
It seems reasonable, and viewed from that light; there are lots and lots of risks. So many possibilities that we often jump into a project rather than considering all the options. That can be good as we start on a project, but it can be a disaster as the true scope of what we are trying to do becomes obvious.
Success is, too often, a gloss and polish on past events that then ‘look right’ from a certain angle. It’s tough to get things to work right.
Failure is fascinating from an intellectual perspective but not at all satisfying from an emotional or monetary point of view. Successful Risk Management is planning before acting, limiting the scope of the project to something to achieve, and then choosing the tools to accomplish the project.
I’m certified as a Risk Management Professional by the Projection Management Institute.