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Discovery-Driven Planning – A Planning-Searching Compromise?


I've written several articles on the distinction between planners and searchers for BI. My experience with the planning-searching dichotomy originated with developmental economist William Easterly and his research on the international poverty war. Easterly has little use for heavy-handed central planning that seems the norm for foreign aid to impoverished countries, preferring instead the work of searchers, “who explore solutions by trial and error, have a way to get feedback on the ones that work, and then expand the ones that work, all of this in an unplanned, spontaneous way.”

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Comments (1)
I love the insights and constructive suggestions you present. Working in a bureaucracy reminds me again and again of the drawbacks to the central planner view of the world. Starting a plan with the recognition that it will be wrong demonstrates a healthy, realistic mindset. Knowing that we need to plan for discovering what does and doesn't work and what's missing from the current plan is showing a humble understanding of human limits -- much better than pretending they don't exist.

I once worked on a project managed by a fellow whose previous management experience was running a Macdonald's outlet. At the end of the project's first phase, I asked him what adjustments needed to be made to the rest of the overall plan. His astonishing answer was that the plan was done at the beginning of the project and wasn't going to be altered!

Posted by David W | Friday, February 04 2011 at 5:38PM ET
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