Productivity and GTD
Act More, Plan Less
“Action is the foundational key to all success.” ~ Pablo Picasso
The traditional way of approaching new projects in companies has always been performing a comprehensive planning of all stages which will form the project. This is done in such way since many times you have to develop a budget that someone else has to define as acceptable; otherwise there’s no project. It’s also important to be clear about all the resources that are going to be needed in order to reach the goal.
Big projects have strong cost, time, quality and scope constraints. As a consequence, defining all the milestones, tasks and sub-tasks, estimating the time each task is going to take, establishing due dates and planning all the necessary resources becomes something apparently necessary.
This is the theory. In practice, it turns out to be that a high number of projects end up failing to fulfill the date of delivery, the established budget, the expected scope or the needed quality, if not many of these at the same time.
So, what do we need so much planning for?
In my opinion, for very little. Indeed, it serves to justify the project’s manager work and the service bought by the costumer, as well as all the future anxiety and arguments that will arise as soon as the deviations over the planning start to happen.
In view of this, some years ago new approaches of project management appeared. They were based on a higher collaboration with the customer and on the capacity to respond to changes, instead of strictly following a plan (Agile Manifesto, 2001).
Similarly, if you create a company, a long-term business plan is usually a fantasy work. There are many factors out of your reach in order for things to turn out as your business plan states (competition, world economy, new laws, customer’s behaviour, etc.)
There is a misleading assumption that it’s possible to rightly plan big projects. But in this type of projects, most of the requirements are not obvious until you have progressed to some point. Before starting, there is usually an enough amount of uncertainty which makes the planning have no sense.
Moreover, many times we assume that when there’s a plan, we have to follow it as if written in stone, and this in some way blinds us to new opportunities and better approaches.
It makes much more sense to start a project planning what you already know (that can be very little), obtaining the first results and incrementally iterating over them until you reach the desired outcome.
Instead of waiting to have a perfect final result, something which never happens, you can quickly produce an imperfect result and, in successive stages, keep improving and shaping the product or service until you reach an optimal result.
When you find yourself facing a new project, in which you aren’t aware of many things, be agile. Decide what you can do now and do it. Start as soon as possible. Take brave decisions, without waiting to have the perfect solution, and move on. Put the car in gear and, little by little, start steering direction until you get to your final destination.
Act more and plan less. Enjoy the trip and learn a lot.