High Coordination Low Planning

It may sound contradictory but i believe that high coordination projects cannot have high planning. When means of coordinating is multiple and efficient and actors are many, trying to predict timing of outcomes in the face of high uncertainty is meaningless.

Imagine picking up someone from airport, there are many uncertainties starting from passenger actually boarding the flight, flight being on time both departure and arrival, weather, delays in airport among others. Now let me list a few coordination tools available
1. departure information from airlines and other providers like airports and third-party apps (both push and pull forms)
2. mobile phone messaging and status like it being switched off or very many styles of missed call messaging
Above 2 categories are asynchronous you can add a synchronous coordination modes of actually calling or chatting online

Now any amount of planning to pick the passenger from the airport is pointless without being aware of the current situation. as tools have become ubiquitous and varied, instead it is useful to focus on the information access and availability for accomplishing the task. Now this may be a very simple task with not much costs, but project planning still in many industries (including IT) is high investment low return activity, still more time is dedicated than any other preparatory activity. industry data supports this as most estimates on both timing and outcomes are error prone from biases, uncertainties and assumptions made.

Massive coordination today happen with tools that were not previously available ranging from github, wiki, Facebook and email calendars. Many start-ups have had significant success without long-range planning (anything beyond 6 months), here is an example on ‘planning is guessing‘  by David Hansson of 37 Signals.

My take is most plans and the associated effort should be considered non-value added activity and waste, instead efforts to remove information asymmetries could pay off better. These may include adoption of better tools to coordinate, designing low latency processes say agile, awareness of context and resources, even simple ground truth documents or guidelines for acting in uncertainties …just saying


One thought on “High Coordination Low Planning

  1. Pingback: Why the PMO is dead, done and dusted? | Cognitive Noise

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