GI JoeA friend back in college always used to reminisce about the old days of playing with GI Joes as a kid. Why am I bringing this up on a blog about marketing? I think it’s interesting to compare the story to project planning, particularly in technology projects.

The story and the storyteller

My friend would reminisce particularly about the set-up involved in playing. You would get all of the figurines together and lay them out in a line. Then you would take turns with your friend picking figurines to be in your army. Next would be setting up the battlefield, vehicles, etc. By the time you would get everything set up just the way you wanted, your mother would come into the room, say that your buddy’s parents were there, and you had to stop playing. After all that time spent planning, you never got to actually play.

I found this ironic because I played in a rock band with the friend who told this story, and he was never able to write lyrics when we asked him to. It was his job to write the lyrics because he did have talent. The problem was that he always liked planning things out and envisioning them, but he wasn’t interested in executing on the plans. He wanted everything to be perfect, and it always locked him up when it came time to start writing.

Eventually, the band broke up because we all thought he was lazy. We weren’t getting results.

Too much planning causes poor execution

I know there are people out there that really like to plan things out and create processes. Sometimes it really is called for. But we cannot let it get to the point where it’s getting in the way of accomplishment. With no results, your project will fail. With no results, your business will go under.

So be sure to plan on actually playing with your GI Joes. Add significant time in your plan to execute on your plan. And be agile! There are too many variables in technology development to make the process into a series of work orders. As Seth Godin states in one of his book titles, “Stop trying to be perfect, and start being remarkable.”