JAN 4, 2010 5:07am ET

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Searching and Planning for the New Year

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I think I'm obsessed with the searching-planning continuum for project implementation and intelligence. I was initially introduced to the thinking by the writings of economist Williiam Easterly and his research on the international poverty war. Easterly contrasts the heavy, top-down blueprint problem-solving approach of Planners unfavorably with the lightweight, bottom-up discovery of Searchers. Planners think they can “strategize”to solutions for knotty problems; Searchers know they cannot – and accordingly look for smaller intermediate “victories”, hoping to learn/adapt as they go. Though Easterly seems to side with Searchers, and I consider myself more a Searcher than Planner, I'd prefer a compromise that incorporates the strengths of both approaches.

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