On planning

Written by larry on May 13th, 2012

A few weeks after the Big Trip, when I reflect back on it I can’t help but marvel over the ordinariness of the flying part. A combination of planning and flexibility resulted in the vast majority of the trip going according to schedule, and when it didn’t, we were able improvise, adding a new, interesting city (Savannah) to the itinerary.

But when you think about it, planning and flexibility are opposites. Eisenhower got it right when he said “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” Our plans provided a baseline from which to stray, and a willingness to do so made the trip run smoothly.

Back in another life, I held a management position in a Fortune 500 company, and remember getting into a heated discussion with another employee. (Associate? Staff member? Cast member? Your call). She was part of a four-person department dedicated to enforcing the rules in their standardized planning book for product development. Unfortunately, the rules were so constraining that pretty much nothing got done unless they were bent or broken, which was something I had the authority to do. I summed up my feelings about process at that time of it by saying “… I’m not a big fan of it; it stifles creativity and deals poorly with exceptions.” I still feel that way now, but the years (about twelve of them) have made me less vociferous on the subject. Or maybe its just that I’m now twelve years removed from that environment.

Two days before our trip, I painstakingly entered thirteen flight plans into my on-board GPS. Over the course of the trip, I flew eight of them, entered three more, and flew only two of those. But having them on tap provided a foundation, and creating the first thirteen was good practice for the others.

Probably I should read up more on Eisenhower. He may have some other good advice.


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