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How Planning Crushed the Republic June 22, 2007

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Project Management.

Call it a Project Plan, or an Action Plan, the fact remains that as much as the Jedi Council wants it to be true, belief in the force is not enough to achieve success.

A Plan is the fundamental vehicle towards success, it forces you to think out very thoroughly all the steps and dependencies that are needed to achieve a goal.

Of course that’s obvious you say – yet I feel a great disturbance in the force when it comes to planning, and it’s the result of people not doing it.

Sure, using the dark side of the force was an advantage we leveraged in order to take control of the universe and form the empire, but think about it. How did we pull off uniting all the planets under the banner of the Galactic Empire? It didn’t come from luck, and it didn’t come from hoping and merely trying that it’ll work out.

It came from an extremely complex project plan with all kinds of linked dependencies. From financing the droid armies and clones, to the infrastructure needed to build all the star destroyers.

But a Project Plan does more than just think things through, it’s a communication mechanism. It clearly communicates expectations so that there’s no doubt as to where things are and where they’ll be, it also clearly identifies who is accountable for what. Without the Plan you’re relying on vagueness, and thinking like an incompetent Jedi who hopes that things will just work out. You have to tag people with what they’re responsible for, and when you need it by.

And if they don’t come through… well they either get fed to the Panna Monster, or get a dose of electrocution.

In very complex plans you’ll need a tool like VS (VaderSoft) Project so that you can link up dependencies, but in most cases smaller phases can do with a simple VS Word or VS Excel document that has a simple table consisting of:

ID Task Responsible Target % Complete
1 Fuel All Death Stars Lord Kaan 05/02/9820 98%
2 Board all troops Ludo Kressh 05/03/9820 10%

There’s a few more columns you can add if you feel useful such as a “Status” column to indicate workflow status (development, qa, release, etc….), a “Notes” column for comments, and a “Original Target Date” so you can flush out incompetence and quickly highlight if something is offtrack (and thus know who needs to be fed to the Panna Monster or be electrocuted).




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