Random Thoughts on Planning

Never was something more key to an organization’s success! Some would argue that there has been successes out there that just sort of happened. I was talking to my Dad the other day as we were driving up to a family wedding and he gave me a real life example of a company whose success just kind of happened – sadly a few years later their demise also just kind of happened. Could it have been avoided…. Yeah probably – that leads me to the two types of planning that I see.
Now as I drone on I should state that I have no educational expertise in this area – I am not an MBA – I am a techno-geek with a Computer Science degree. I enjoy getting lost in an afternoon of coding. Even when I try though – you can’t hide from planning – My two types of planning aren’t unique, Strategic and Tactical
StrategicThis may be better named Vision. Many projects were well managed tactically, but because of poor vision of where they fit or what was actually needed the project end up somewhere it didn’t want to be. A frustrating thing I have run into from time to time is situations in which the owner of the project punts on where they want to take the project and drops the decision down to customers. Customer input is critical of course, but unless the owner can sense the pulse of the customers, understand the business, and have vision for where true benefit can be added they will be left to manage priorities that shift based on the current fires facing their customers. It is common for the application vision to fly in the face of the issues that seem to be most important at the moment. A cousin of mine had a quote in her home that said “Don’t sacrifice what you want most for what you think you want now!”. So true for Strategic Planning. As a last point there is obviously a balance here between dealing with the real, current issues and spending time on the things that will take you where you think you need to be.
TacticalDetails, Details, Details – timelines, resources, progress, status, and crisis management. I have gained greater appreciation lately for the need for someone dedicated in this area. I previously felt like these people didn’t add much in the way of value, but somehow I ended up in a job that is much more that type of stuff than programming. So maybe to justify what I do I see more value in it. The role of tactically managing and planning a project is interesting – you have to be technical enough to be able to dabble in the details and provide direction, but not so lost in the dungeon of details that you can’t get your hands around all that is going on. Being honest about the challenges being faced and the realities of schedules is so refreshing – too bad that seems to be so rare. Saying No seems to be impossible to do
Planning is also key to my work happiness. There is nothing more frustrating than getting yanked around from fire to fire to fire or being overloaded because everything seems to be absolutely urgent. I get so tired of it – my brains at times feels like scrambled eggs because of it.


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