There’s not much more I would rather do these days than cruise the back-roads from the seat of my motorcycle. There’s something about experiencing the adventure at a more tactile level than what you feel in the climate-controlled space created by an automobile. And, giving the throttle a little extra twist now and again shooting through the twisties is pretty darn fun.
Saturday, my wife and I spent the better part of the afternoon watching professional motorcycle races shoot around the track at somewhere around 200 miles per hour. The Miller Sports Park, a few miles outside of Salt Lake City, celebrates Memorial Day with some of the best motorcycle racing in the country (if not the world). The skill of these riders is pretty incredible—but the preparation that goes into a race like this is often what makes the difference between winning and maybe even finishing the race.
I think the same could be said for projects.
In light of yesterday’s Memorial Day celebration, I thought this statement made by Dwight D. Eisenhower about preparation was appropriate: “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Projects tend to be fluid and constantly changing things. To be honest, I can’t think of the last time I was involved in a project in which the plan didn’t change at some point—even if only a little. By their very nature, projects are unpredictable. If they weren’t, we would treat them like business as usual. With that in mind, I don’t think I’m quite ready to abandon the project plan, but I realize that the real value of the plan is the preparation and consideration that goes into building it.
The Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.”
I’m convinced this applies to motorcycle racing, a safe afternoon in the saddle of my own bike, military engagement and the projects we attack every day. I recently wrote about filtering inbound project requests through a work request queue and making decisions about risk mitigation; both of which are things to be considered when preparing for a project. What are you doing to be prepared?