22 August 2005


Planning is something that everyone does but very few people are any good at. Most people won't even call it Planning but, since that's what it is and to reduce confusion, that's what I'll call it.

Planning is tricky for many reasons, not least of which because of the old military adage "No plan survives contact with the enemy". This at least means that Truth and Innocence have someone else to talk to in hospital. Planning also requires taking into account myriad things that are often, by definition, unknowable. Which is why any half-decent plan spawns legion sub-plans. This is where things get sticky.

In the event that the original Plan goes south, you need a Contingency Plan1. Why a Contingency Plan is going to last any longer than the original plan, no-one knows2. But one is still prepared. Standards, don't you know.

Then there is a Risk Plan, which details all the risks associated with following the Plan and how you're going to make them go away. Number 1 Risk should always be "Plan A Goes South", the answer to which is "Switch to Plan B". If care is not taken, a Contingency Plan can consist of nothing but references to the next plan in the alphabetical sequence.

Next up is the Quality Plan, which details how you're going to make sure everything goes the way it should3. Quality Plans are generally full of high-minded ideals that function perfectly in theoretical environments but unravel spectacularly quickly in the real world.

From here on the Plans get very application-specific and are consequently less amusing. However, the common thread is that they are all there to address the inadequacies of the plans which reference them. Man's attempts to prepare for the Unexpected and the Inexplicable.

The amount of money spent on Planning is proportional to what is at risk. If you're planning meeting friends in town, a 30 second phone call is all the planning you need. If you're going to Mars, you might want to spend a bit longer. However, amid the variables, there is a constant; that which is inconstant, unmanageable, unknown. No amount of planning can ever address the nature of the universe.

The root of Planning is Man trying to grasp the fabric of the universe and shape it to our will. It's a cry in the vacuum, trying to attract the attention of something that isn't looking.

1 Commonly referred to as "Plan B".
2 Maybe its idiot-proof, but let's not go there.
3 i.e. Not South.


  1. I can't tell if this is too cynical or just cynical enough.

  2. I heard Stan was the man with the plan. Although I can't verify this...

    I also heard mice have the best laid plans but they often go astray. Stoopid mice.

  3. I also have a super power. Incredible cuteness. Come check me out. This is not a porn site. Unless by telling you this you won't come. Then it might be a porn site.