Part 1 Chapter 3

Part 1 Chapter 3

Why You Wouldn’t Cook Dinner Like You Do Projects


Imagine this.

It’s early evening and you decide to have dinner.

You think you’d really like some pasta, tomato sauce and garlic bread, washed down with a glass of red wine.

So this is what you do next:

  1. You go into the kitchen and light the gas.
  2. You look in the cupboard and find you don’t have pasta – you’re going to have to go down to the store. Hopefully you remember to turn off the gas (and if you didn’t remember, this could potentially burn your house down!)
  3. You return from the store with the pasta, get some water boiling and start the pasta cooking.
  4. You have bread, butter and garlic so you assemble the garlic bread. That takes you about the same length of time as it does for the pasta to cook.  So now the pasta is cooked but you’ve still got to do the garlic bread in the oven.  You do that, trying to keep the pasta warm meantime.
  5. The garlic bread is done, so you warm up the sauce – which happily you happened to have a jar of. You tip that over the lukewarm pasta.
  6. All set. But hey, wouldn’t a salad go perfectly with all of this?  You look in the fridge and mercifully you have the ingredients.  You whip that up while the pasta and sauce continues to cool.
  7. There’s no oil for the salad dressing. That’s a bummer but you decide you’ll have to do without the dressing
  8. Garlic bread, tepid bowl of pasta with lukewarm sauce, salad with no dressing – wasn’t really what you first imagined. Anyway, you head for the table.
  9. Damn! Where’s the wine?  You drank the last bottle over the weekend.
  10. Back down the store …

It’s ridiculous, right?  Nobody in their right mind would cook dinner like this.  Instead you have a recipe, either in your head or on paper.  The recipe tells what materials and equipment you need to get the job done.  It tells you the order in which things have to be done.  In other words – it’s a plan.

And this is why we have plans – to save us lots of grief; to enable us to sort out lots of things in advance so that we’ll have less unpleasant surprises along the way.

So too with projects – we plan for exactly the same reasons.  If you’ve ever heard somebody say, ‘We don’t have time to plan it, just go do it,’ it’s always the wrong thing to say.  You’ll get the thing done quicker, cheaper and with minimum effort if you do a little bit of planning first.

And this is not so-called ‘paralysis by analysis’ i.e. spending prohibitive amounts of time planning leaving no time left for the doing.

Instead, as you’ll see for yourself, it’s the investment of a small amount of time to do some critical thinking and thereby save yourself potentially untold amounts of grief down the line.

If this book wanted an alternative title, it would be ‘Why a Little Planning Beats a Lot of Firefighting’.