How to be systematic and also spontaneous. Advice sought.

Reeling from the recent vicious and unprovoked flaming suffered here [irony], I hesitate to write more about planning.

But… I got a glimpse today – while being unusually systematic at work – of the pleasures of mapping out detailed plans for x and y and z. And if you want to do x by time A, then tasks x1 and x2 must…

And before I get lost in Gantt charts and all the rest of it, and become anal and obsessive compulsive, and lose sight of the targets of opportunity and the willingness to make it up as I go along – how do you marry the need for detail, precision and long-term grinding with the joie de vivre and the exhilarating seat-of-the-pants?

Ideas on a post-card to the usual address…



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One Response to How to be systematic and also spontaneous. Advice sought.

  1. robpatrob says:

    Classical planning is shite as you point out it falls apart in the real world where new things happen. Here are some hard won alternatives.

    Most people confuse process with outcomes. They plan the process and miss what it is all for. If you have your focus on the what and the why – you need much less “planning” and you can orient many others to make their own way.

    In military terms this is called the “Commander’s Intent” – it deals with where we are – what we have to get accomplished in what resource box and in what time.

    With this others can find their own way there and if things change can orient themselves to still end up at the right place in concert with others.

    Dancing rather than marching. It is an approach that takes into account that in real life – shit always happens.

    Also using the military – the German staff used a concept called the Spearpoint – ask what is the one critical action needed to get the result. Again the result needs to be clear up front.

    For in every situation you can choose broad or pointed. With pointed you will use the impact of what you do to disrupt and open up new opportunities that you then have to see and act upon. For instance at the outset of WWII you sucker the allies to come north into Belgium and you drive behind them from the Ardennes – they fall apart. You don’t have to defeat them en masse.

    In this approach you seek to find the unexpected that you can create for the other so they they get confused – with them confused, you have more freedom to act.

    Guerilla warfare is all about this. The object is to disconnect the opponent who is much stronger than you from his plan and his support. You keep looking for new opportunities to do this.

    Most people have low skilled people on the team who still have to think things though rather than from experience can know and see what is going on and intuitively react in the right way.

    This is the Fire Brigade/Roman Legion/Ballet approach – here the folks are all drilled into the key blocks of action that occur in any action. They become like Lego that can be assembled to make anything – same with a classically trained ballet dancer – now the centurion can have his unit – or the choreographer his dancers – or the fire chief his trucks – respond to any event.

    Many will have their eyes so fixed on the Plan that they cannot see what is going on – the allies in France in 1940 – or miss opportunities – the allies in France in 1944

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