Dwight D. Eisenhower served as our 34th president of the United States and a World War II leader. During the war, he earned his five stars because he proved to be a diligent and effective leader who could think strategically. During a speech in 1957, Eisenhower said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

As a project manager, you tend to either make sure of every detail is right before you get started, or, maybe you rush into getting started, and not worry as much about planning. Think again.

While some planning is good, over planning each detail is wasteful. Starting without a plan also has risks. The key is, to begin with the right balance: to plan enough to account for risks and dependencies, then to get started, and learn and adapt. Focus on lessons learned, and makes process improvements going forward. With that, the balance between planning and action is achieved.

Your project must be successful, with no mistakes, however, you’ve become a victim of ‘paralysis by analysis’ and you’re not getting anything done. A voice inside you says, “Forget planning and just start!”

First establish a balance between less intensive pre-planning and project commencement. Account for risks and dependencies, get started, then incorporate lessons learned in the project’s process path.

Key Takeaways:

  • Do enough planning to understand your goals and objectives, along with risks and dependencies in order to get started
  • Consider cost and budget in your initial plan
  • Plan what’s critical and prioritize goals and tasks
  • Launch and adapt


Photo credit: Military.com