Over Planning

Over Planning

Over Planning Jonathan Poland

Over planning refers to the practice of spending excessive amounts of time planning without implementing any of the plans. This can be a wasteful and inefficient approach to problem-solving, as it can lead to plans that are overly complex and difficult to execute.

In some cases, over planning may be necessary for the development of extremely complex products or projects, such as a new airliner. In these situations, a high level of planning is required in order to ensure that the project is completed successfully. However, for most business operations, over planning can be a hindrance rather than a help.

Instead of over planning, it is often more effective to develop a clear and concise plan that focuses on the key objectives and priorities. This can help to ensure that resources are used efficiently and that progress is made in a timely manner. By avoiding over planning, businesses can avoid wasting time and effort on unnecessary activities, and instead focus on implementing their plans and achieving their goals. The following are alternatives that allow for less planning overhead, reduced project risk and a faster response to change.

Last Responsible Moment

Last responsible moment is the practice of delaying decisions and planning until they absolutely need to be done. This allows you to respond to change and reduce wasted planning effort.

Integrated Product Team

Small multidisciplinary teams that are responsible for requirements, development and operations for a single product or process. This prevents the heavy politics of having departments dealing with departments. It also simulates the structure of small firms that tend to do things far more efficiently than larger firms.

Ranking Priorities

A common way that projects get big is that stakeholders are asked to prioritize their requirements and they rate everything as “must have.” This can be prevented with a mandate that they rank priorities from 1…n.


Agile is the practice of implementing work in chunks no longer than a few weeks in duration. This typically restricts the planning phase for a release to a single day. Agile also allows for longer term planning to occur in the background away from the critical path of releasing work often.

Time to Market

Prioritizing time to market as a business metric forces planning cycles to be short as changes need to be shipped quickly. In other words, executives that aggressively evaluate teams on time to market will force teams to minimize planning.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is the process of measuring results, improving and measuring again. This works well with agile whereby you improve in quick releases that can be adapted quickly based on real world results.

Process Streamlining

Minimizing bureaucratic processes that make planning bigger such as budget approvals or reviews by multiple departments. It is easier to justify minimal processes for small changes. This is yet another benefit of agile.

Planning Culture

Implementing habits, routines and norms that shorten planning such as standing meetings where nobody gets to sit down.

Structural Minimization

The less people that are involved in a change the less planning will be required. Likewise, changes that involve vendors or multiple departments may be orders of magnitude slower. As such, a basic principle of planning reduction is to put everyone with the authority to complete the change on the same small team. This can be described as designing your organizational structure to minimize the footprint of change.

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