Aug 8, 2009

Small experiments are the key

"The Right Plan is to Not have a Plan", a blog post by Tom Peters
While planners treat the plan as holy writ, searchers live by rapid trial and error and learn through constant experimentation and adjustment.
In that blogpost he quotes from William Easterly's book:
In foreign aid, Planners announce good intentions but don't motivate anyone to carry them out; Searchers find things that work and get some reward. Planners raise expectations but take no responsibility for meeting them; Searchers accept responsibility for their actions. Planners determine what to supply; Searchers find out what is in demand. Planners apply global blueprints; Searchers adapt to local conditions. Planners at the top lack knowledge of the bottom; Searchers find out what the reality is at the bottom. ... A Planner thinks he already knows the answers; he thinks of poverty as a technical engineering problem that his answers will solve. A Searcher admits he doesn't know the answers in advance; he believes that poverty is a complicated tangle of political, social, historical, institutional and technological factors; a Searcher hopes to find answers to individual problems only by trial and error experimentation. A Planner believes outsiders know enough to impose solutions; a Searcher believes only insiders have enough knowledge to find solutions, and that most solutions must be homegrown.
And in another post, Peters talks about systems thinking: (Systems Thinking):
My article claimed that "planning" was highly overrated. The best performers, I said, seesawed back and forth between "ideas" and "actions." That is, they had a "big idea." (Or a small one, for that matter.) Rather than think it to death, they immediately got the hell into the field and experimented with some element of it (a prototype). They watched what happened, adjusted, and then quickly ran another experiment—in the meantime the "big idea" also was trimmed or expanded to fit the incoming "real" data, the results of those experiments. As far as I'm concerned this approach, rather than a "planning-centric" approach, is the best (bold assertion) route to success.
And he recommends a book that seems pretty interesting: Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate