The One Thing Missing From Your Project Plans

No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.
— Helmuth von Moltke, 19th century
Good ole’ Helmuth

Good ole’ Helmuth

Over the years I’ve seen many plans. What I haven’t necessarily seen very often is a framework for what happens next. Fancy people might call that project governance. A better way to describe it is: how do you know when to adjust your plan, and what parts do I throw out?

As leaders, we spend 6 months waiting, planning and waiting. Sometimes more! Have you even gotten a finalized budget yet? When a big project finally kicks off there are a ton of questions that naturally come up, even if only when you’re awake at 2 in the morning:

  • What to do about all this negative feedback I’m getting from parts of the team?

  • Is the team overloaded? Underloaded?

  • Do my leaders have all the skills they need to execute the plan?

    • If my teams don’t have the skills they need, would I even hear about it?

  • Have I overplanned some areas and underplanned others? Which areas?

  • How do I know I’m there?

  • Am I missing anything?

    • Would I know if the project is off-course? Is it already?

  • Are my vendors delivering what I expect?

  • Have I communicated to them clearly what I expect?

    • Is it even written down?

These are big topics: assessment, goals, planning, and adjustments. Many times, your teams won’t tell you what’s really going on because they are just trying to get through their next performance review cycle! They know it will come up later, but later is better than now.


From here, your next big questions are:

  • Is the feedback valid?

  • Whose feedback should I listen to in the first place, if anyone?

These questions are the first critical ones to think about when you start thinking about adjustments. As we go along, we will talk more about these topics.

technologyRick Watson