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Planners, Searchers and BI


Lest we banish Planners forever, be mindful that the Easterly depiction is a weak straw man whose benefits are probably now under-appreciated. Nevertheless, the Planner/Searcher dichotomy is progressing to the business world in a big way. The Practice of Leadership blog promotes Searchers in a flattering article: Planners vs searchers...the big programme vs small wins. And no less a management authority than writer/consultant Tom Peters has opined strongly on the topic: The Right Plan is to Have No Plan. Peters sees his career portfolio of work as archtypically Searcher: “My "ideology"—my only ideology—is unabashedly rapid fire trial and error. (Bob Waterman and I labeled this "a bias for action," our first of Eight Basics that were the centerpiece of In Search of Excellence.” Indeed, the evidenced-based management movement, driven by a learning obsession with data, experiments, analytics and feedback, is the embodiment of “searching “ in the business world. 

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Comments (3)
I really like this article. I work as I staff accountant and I can see that most of the people I work with are "planners". I like to think of myself as a "searcher". I love digging for new information rather than acting based on assumptions.
Posted by Daniel C | Tuesday, July 21 2009 at 6:32PM ET
Thanks for this post! Actually, I think that, while people may tend to gravitate to one extreme or the other, the big success stories often come from those who can view a challenge multiple ways. And isn't that what is taught in school? (or am I just dating myself?) - you form a hypothesis, which is planning - but then you test your hypothesis, which is searching and back and forth and so on... However, getting back to the business of BI, there seems to be increasing demand for those who really can balance both, in fact, your colleague on this site touches on that in talking about managing processes for the business:


of course, some of the sharpest minds seem to be able, like chess players - to envision more of the small steps, and their result, than the rest of us - so maybe some of those who we think are planners are doing their searching in ways that others may not see...

Posted by Marcia E | Monday, August 03 2009 at 2:53PM ET
I'd agree that a variety of skills are needed in any team - to paraphrase Eisenhower - planning is required but it is not sufficient. And similarly searching is required but it is not sufficient. Also required are good communication skills and creativity (which definitely isn't planning). I would suggest that to find a person who's good at more than 2 of these is rare and pointless - as is demading a specicific combination.
Posted by David B | Tuesday, August 04 2009 at 4:41AM ET
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