Planning is very important ... it doesn't work

My kids (and the adults in the house) have been enjoying the "Rube Goldberg" OK Go video for the song, This Too Shall Pass.  It's an impressively convoluted machine.  There is also a "behind the scenes" video from Adam Sadowsky, president of the company that put the machine together.  These are both embedded below.

The "behind the scenes" discussion talked about the setup of the problem and the requirements of the machine and the overall video.  Right about in the middle of the video (3:40), Adam Sadowsky says something interesting in terms of what they've learned from doing this project:

planning is very important
planning doesn't work

Great, right?  How do you respond to this? 

Both statements are right on the money.  If they hadn't planned, there is no chance they would have been able to accomplish what they wanted to do.  At the same time, if they had decided that the plan was exactly what they were going to do, they would have never made it either. 

The plan is not the goal of the project.  The plan is the current, best picture of how we think we are going to get from here to there.  It's important to get that picture in the minds of the people who will be on the project.  But if you don't allow them to deviate when the bridge washes out, how can you expect them to reach the goal?  They must deviate.  And in the case of this video, it sounds like they deviated all over the place: many of the original elements of the machine didn't make it into the final cut.

So.  The goal is to finish.  And the plan is the path we think we are going to take.  But once the project is alive, do whatever it takes to make it happen.

The OK Go video for This Too Shall Pass.

Behind the scenes on the construction of the Rube Goldberg machine by Adam Sadowsky, president of Syyn Labs - the people who helped design and build the machine.

UPDATE 12 April 2010: Another behind-the-scenes video on the making of the Rube Goldberg machine. This time with Leo LaPorte going over various scenes with Adam Sadowski and two others from Syyn Labs.

5 Comment(s)

In the military we had a saying that a plan was a common reference point from which to make changes.

Mike Dalton said:

Brilliant example of Moltke's original statement that "no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy"

Matt Darren Hurst said:

Strategic planning doesn’t have to lead to paralysis. It’s not meant to, and if it’s done right it won’t. What we have to realize is that while there are best practices in planning it doesn’t have to be done the same every time.
[edited to remove irrelevant URL]

Martha Gonzalez Author Profile Page said:

No plans only fools, one way or another we all have certain plans. Set a goal and achieve it, it is not planning.
Thanks, Martha

Martha Gonzalez Author Profile Page said:

No plans only fools, one way or another we all have certain plans. Set a goal and achieve it, it is not planning.
Thanks, Martha, Job Search Expert

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