Failing to Prepare, is Preparing to Fail

I’m always surprised at how little planning is done, or how little planning is done in sufficient detail.

In my experience projects often slip behind by weeks or months overnight when people realise that their plans were poorly created or ill-conceived, and they then realise that some key tasks were missed or that they didn’t understand their critical path. Usually, this is at a point when there is too little time left to incorporate the slippage or omitted tasks and still meet the deadline.

Often projects are behind schedule the day they start, as the effort and time required to complete them has been seriously underestimated. This is one of the key reasons that projects fail to meet their on-time delivery because they never stood a chance in the first place.

Planning is a skill that can be learnt, but it’s often neglected. The number of project managers who have never had planning training is alarming, but this is hardly surprising as many project and program management training courses do not include a planning module.

Planning is becoming a lost art.

I often ask myself, how did this happen, who thought that this would be a good idea?

One of my great friends, Doug Fain, is one of the best planners I have ever worked with, he worked for NASA and was involved in planning several missions. There is nothing that Doug cannot plan.

He once told me that for one of the missions, they needed to have a special alloy invented which could withstand intense heat and without this invention, the mission would not be possible. As part of the plan, he worked backwards from when they needed the alloy, to create a date by which it needed to be invented, then he planned the R&D tasks needed in order to give them a chance to develop the new alloy with sufficient time to complete the mission.

Fortunately for Doug, the R&D group came through and the alloy was developed with time to spare.

As leaders we should look to re-establish planning as a core skill within our organisations, we should look to provide detailed training and coaching and create expert planners. With a core of expert planners, we will significantly improve our on-time delivery and reduce total costs by reducing costly project overruns and eliminating waste.

If you’re looking for good planning resources and training, I can highly recommend CEGB Consulting and just ask for Doug.

Remember if you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail!

If you want to learn more about creating highly engaged teams or being a better leader click the link to make an appointment to talk about how I can help.