29 March 2010


I just finished reading Rework, the new book by the guys at 37Signals. It was fantastic - and you can check out their free online excerpt to get a taste.

I particularly liked the bit titled Planning Is Guessing. Bingo! Their comment about the danger of treating guesses as plans was particularly insightful, and I wholeheartedly agree with the following advice:

"Start referring to your business plans as business guesses, your financial plans as financial guesses, and your strategic plans as strategic guesses."

While you're waiting for your copy to arrive (you are going to buy one, aren't you?), check out this tongue-in-cheek attack ad the 37Signals guys did to counter the #1 selling book on Amazon, Karl Rove's Courage & Consequence.


Dan Taylor said...

Dan -- I knew their stuff would resonate with you and any of your readers who are looking for FISTYy ways to get it done. There's more of the same at their podcast at http://37signals.com/podcast. Episode 9 is all about the book. The others are well worth listening too as well. Thanks for the pointer to the video! Dan

dcwork said...

I find the Eisenhower observation on plans and planning to be more useful - that plans aren't worth much, but the acting of planning is very helpful.

The thing I worry about with "plans are guesses" becoming a slogan is that it will lead folks to skip a potentially useful activity in planning since the outcome is just a guess.

To paraphrase what George Box said about models, "All plans are wrong, but some plans are useful."

And I think it's exactly right to think of a plan as a map or a model.

Saying that plans are guesses can be a useful way calling attention to the fact that the map is not the territory, especially over time.

The Dan Ward said...

@DT - Thanks for the podcast link! I'll have to check that out.

@DC - Yeah, I love the phrase "the map is not the territory," but I think the thing about plans is that they're maps of a dynamic territory. The territory changes almost before the ink is dry on the map. So I agree, the process of planning is vital & useful, as long as we don't fall in love with the product of our planning effort.

My assessment is that it's far more likely we'll overestimate the value & accuracy of our plans than fail to take planning seriously enough. Then again, there is a long and proud tradition within program management (& DoD particularly) of overcorrecting, so who knows...