L&D: No Plan Is a Plan

Just Not a Very Good Plan

As the saying goes.


And NO PLAN is just slightly worse than a Bad Plan. IMO.

Besides No Plan at all – what are the earmarks of a Bad Plan?

Lack of Details

Macro tasks instead of micro tasks. Conduct the Analysis versus:

Too general than specific enough – leaving some to wonder if the task/step details will actually get you there – or has the panner overlooked the difficult terrain on the way forward.

Does the plan actually account for all the touch times of the tasks that will need to be performed and leave adequate cycle time for their completion. Without the details you cannot be sure.

And who is doing what anyway?


Poor Sequence of Activities

A seemingly random order of tasks to be done. First things not done first before second things. Etc.

Invisible/Unacknowledged Dependencies

First things not done first that lead to second things – because they would influence what happened downstream. Are those linkages even understood?

This is why I prefer PERT Charts to GANTT Charts.

No Timely Reviews By the Right Stakeholders

Are Reviews – and the Who’s of Reviews – planned for and visible? Of the Plan before jumping in and Just Doing It?

Poorly Communicated

How and to who is the plan being communicated to? If there are many pages and great detail that should be checked for accuracy, completeness and appropriateness via expecting people to read it and then assuming they did?


The Devil with Planning IS IN THE DETAIL

I’ve been a proponent of Planning at a detailed level forever – it seems. It goes back to my time in the US Navy at least. I was a shipboard Journalist responsible for programming CCTV (Closed Circuit TV) on a ship where my captive audience were 600 sailors and 2400 Marines.

Feedback came quickly if I schedule the same program to be rerun so that the “watch schedule” meant that someone would never see that program before I shipped it off to the next ship once I got my new shipment of programming.

My first article published on this topic of Project Planning was in 1986 for the NSPI Chicago chapter in their newsletter:

Proj Mgmt – CNSPI -1986 – 9 page PDF – originally published in the Chicago Chapter of NSPI (ISPI) Newsletter in December 1986 – on my Project Management Techniques for Project Definition, Project Planning and Project Communications.

But by then I was well into it. I had been planning and pricing Fixed Fee consulting engagements – where the plan was part of the offering – and being wrong could have severe financial consequences to our small consulting firm.

I vastly prefered Fixed Fee engagements to Time & Expense gigs because I had several bad experiences prior to becoming a consultant myself – while at MTEC – Motorola’s Training & Education Center (1981-1982) – when the final cost far exceeded the estimate before we started.

I attributed most of those cost overruns to the poor planning of my hired guns. And my inability to scrutinize their plans’ tasks – at a detailed level. Most of the time they deliberately hid/obscured their details – believing that they were proprietary.

Having been burned – by poor planning – I had learned.

And vowed to be different.

Past Posts On This

The Reason I Really Dislike Gantt Charts

The Detailed (Enough) Project Plan

The CAD Project Plan Template and Link to the PACT Interview Guide

The PACT Interview Guide – For Conducting the Initial Client & Stakeholder Interviews in Preparation for Detailed Project Planning

Almost Always the 1st Phase: Project Planning & Kick-Off

A Presentation at Purdue on Project Management From a Decade Ago

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