New Years Plans

At this time of year, we turn to face the future with New Years. As I ponder this, the question comes “why do we plan?”

Why do we plan?
We certainly do enough of it. Even people who are not project managers often put a lot of energy into planning. Think about a 10 year old visiting Disneyland for the second day during a vacation, there’s an intense amount of planning going on. Or a newly engaged young woman preparing for her wedding day. And yet, we all know, and generally expect, that things will not come out as we plan them – sometimes things go even better, often reality falls short of our plans. Yet we continue to plan.

I don’t know that I have the answer to why we plan; Planning certainly provides comfort, we build expectations on “what comes next”, and subsequently, those expectations reduce our stress. When working in groups, planning extends to every member of the team. I’ve been planning, everyday, for most of my life. Some of those plans have been large and complex, involving teams, businesses, and costs. Others have been small, focused just on me… this weekend I planed out what days I will go skiing this winter.

Reflecting on why we plan helps to generate plans at the right level. For my ski trips, no one else is dependent on the details; which resort I’ll visit, or what I will bring for lunch. So the plans can be light, fluid, and change if I want to. An ERP project, with 20 team members, and the future health of a company – and all its workers- being planned cannot be nearly so light and fluid.

There’s wisdom in applying the right amount of detail and rigidity to plans, neither too much – or too little, and having an idea of why we are planning, helps to establish that correct level of detail.

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