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Buck Woody

Carpe Datum!

Plans are useless. Planning is essential!

I do lot of cooking, and I was taught to prepare everything ahead of time, and put everything in its place – something called “Mise en Place”. I chop everything and put it in little bowls, measure out the spices, lay out all of the pots and pans and so on, all before I turn on the oven or stove. It forces me to plan, and to be ready to put everything together so that it all comes out at once.

IT projects are like that. If you take your time to plan things out, prepare the software and hardware, arrange the steps and so on, things go well.

But that isn’t to say they go according to plan. Unlike cooking, an IT project can take dramatic changes based on conditions. OK, cooking can do that too, but it normally doesn’t! I don’t get too bent out of shape when an IT project veers from the plan, if it’s for a good reason. I just alter the plan and keep going. I had to do this recently, and it really rattled the team I was working with. They thought that we should stick to the plan regardless – which isn’t always needed. They protested that they had spent so much time planning, they didn’t want to throw that work away.

But it isn’t really “throwing the work away” if you have to change your plan – again, if it’s for a good reason. The original plan helps you understand what the goals are at that time, and how to reach them. Changing the plan to reach that goal based on the decisions is a wise thing to do. As I learned in the military, “no plan survives first contact.”

So while the plan might be useless, the discipline of planning is essential to help you get where you need to go.

Published Wednesday, December 2, 2009 8:12 AM by BuckWoody
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WIDBA said:

Interesting comparison.

I prefer "Agile" cooking mostly.  Its training for working on development shops where the requirements are never printed because they change so much.  You are never prepared for whats coming next, and you have to be creative to recover from unplanned steps (breaking up a fight between the kids, phone calls, etc).

December 2, 2009 12:54 PM

Stephen Horne said:

Something from my Navy days:

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

December 2, 2009 1:28 PM

Chuck Boyce said:

I completely agree.  The D-Day invasion of Normandy is an excellent example.  Very well planned, but lots of things went wrong.  Trained, committed soldiers who knew how to think on their feet and work together for a common goal won the greatest battle in history despite LOTS of things going wrong/against them.

December 2, 2009 2:58 PM

Alex K said:

The "the greatest battle in history" opinion is very controversial...

December 6, 2009 2:25 PM
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