Plan Less Do More

Get Results: plan less do more
Get Results: Plan less do more

Sometimes it pays to spend less time planning and more time doing.

Much of the popular advice about undertaking a new project advocates doing lots of planning. It’s important to ensure you align any new project with your life goal, so you know you’re undertaking it for the right reasons. You don’t want to get to the end and discover you feel empty and unfulfilled, having just successful completed your project.

Having said that, I have always found greater effectiveness comes from the actual “doing stage”, the experimenting bit, if you like. Getting your hands dirty, testing things out, failing and learning from that failure, tweaking and testing again. I find this way of working far more interesting and insightful.

Don’t get me wrong, having an outline plan is fine, a general direction to aim for, making sure you have an end goal that you truly want and believe in. The finishing line is important otherwise you’re like a rudderless boat floating around aimlessly and without any purpose and as a result little desire, or motivation to do anything constructively. Not having a sense of purpose takes the fun out of life. Human nature is inspired by ambition and striving, and as long as it’s done positively and without desiring power over others, or knocking others down, it’s a good thing. “A rising tide lifts all boats”.

Some years ago organisers did an interesting experiment where they pitched kindergarten children against MBA Harvard graduates and asked both groups to build the tallest structure they could within a time limit, using sticks, tape, and string, placing a marshmallow on top. The graduates took the task seriously, taking a highly analytical approach, debating how best to use the string, tape and sticks to achieve maximum altitude. For all the planning and construction, they ran out of time and were unsuccessful. The kindergarten children on the other hand, just got on with building, if it didn’t work they quickly tried something else, they got to give it a lot more tries than the graduates. They learned from their mistakes as they went along, instead of trying to figure out everything in advance. They won! They were more efficient in using the time they had available to them.

When it comes to making progress with a difficult task in uncertain conditions, there is no substitute for quickly trying things out to see what works. As soon as you think of a possible combination, try it to see how it will work.

In a rapidly changing world we must become better experimenters. Coming up with ideas, building and testing those ideas. With technological advancement it is often less expensive to try out your ideas than to figure out if you should try them out.