Failing to Plan, Planning to Fail

Planning isn’t all about what we want to achieve. The biggest problem is actually implementing something that can be achieved and in a way that this will deliver the outcomes and benefits we want. For some things we can immediately see that the world is complex. Solving world hunger or stopping climate change are two examples of desired outcomes we would all agree are extremely difficult to deliver. But this is also true of smaller projects.

How many times have we thought a simple process or system modification will deliver the change we require? Then what happens? We find that we have not truly understood the process or system we are interfering with. We find that others have a different view of what is best and a different view of how this can be achieved. Suddenly a supposedly simple project starts to hit the buffers and we are have to back track, re-engage with people and re-launch our project.

So, if you are about to make an announcement about a change that is going to be implemented, just think again before you do it. The change may be a “Grand Challenge” and that is fine as long as you acknowledge that you don’t know how it is to be delivered and are making the announcement to engage others in the process. The change may be a new policy or strategy, but if you announce this without knowing how it will be delivered and if you haven’t planned the execution, then be prepared for a rocky ride. Announcing something to be delivered by a certain date and within a certain budget makes a great headline as long as you are not planning to be around to be held accountable for the results.

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