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


Comparing Online Concept Mapping Tools

Having an office laptop with no admin privileges forced me to look beyond VUE for my concept mapping and representation needs. While the list of undifferentiated features are high, there are certain features that still makes you say yes to a specific tool despite compromises. My evaluation criteria is very personal, features like real time collaboration with multiple authors or sharing in social media, import from freemind, images are not so relevant for me, as my use is specific to one facilitation or representation usually.

Feature Creately Diagramly Lucidchart
Search (search across both node and link texts)Stencils or templates (for shapes and standards across map types)

Multiple links across nodes (not just one link between nodes)

No separate sign up (google/facebook/twitter connects)

Export to picture formats (png, jpg)

All morphologies

(unlike regular mindmapping softwares with one central node and branching out)

Sticky Nodes (connections retained when you move/format)

Yes Yes Yes
Rapid prototyping (with just clicks from nodes, without drag drops and separate linking) Yes Shape repeats and no choice on the new node shape Yes Shape repeats and no choice on the new node shape Yes Better than the other 2 with the prompt for the new node shape
Link form (linear, orthognol, free form) All forms Rounded orthogonal works for most instances No free form links All forms and I really like the curves in Lucid, as we can create the maps without links cris-crossing with them. Multi pivots possible
Google Docs Integration (saved as picture) No Yes Convenient No
Export to xml (formats vary by tool) Yes Yes No
Import from same tool xml Yes Yes Only visio with limited guarantees for proI did not try this here
Save map as model/template(model maps are useful when concept maps are refined in stages or with many inputs) No No Yes

PS: I chose lucid finally and with a huge compromise on diagramly’s google docs integration.