23 August 2010

Long Term Envisioning

What do people mean when they do:
Long Term Planning
I don't know what that means.

The following are my guesses as to what "Long Term Planning" really means:
  1. An exercise in stating some future desired state with no idea how to get there.
  2. An explicit agreement that you will diverge from reality at some near point in the future.
  3. An exercise in exploring organizational identity.
For conversation types #1 and #2, see the "Planning is guessing" chapter in Rework (p 19). OK, that takes care of 80% of the Long Term Planning situations.

I think that conversation type #3 is a very important conversation that typically gets way too little time. Devoting time to a pragmatic answer to "Why does this organization exist?" can produce a shared vision that can make everyone's work much more coordinated. See the last paragraph on page 58 of "A simpler way" (and subsequent paragraphs) for an inspiring discussion of this topic. You can search for "58" inside this book on Amazon as of Aug. 2010 and read a couple pages.

Each person's individuality can stop going in n directions and start converging on producing real stuff that satisfies the "Why?" question. If it's worthwhile to answer "Why?" with real stuff delivered to the real world, then it continues to be worthwhile to be associated with an organization.

If it becomes impossible to reasonably answer "Why?" or becomes impossible to actually deliver real answers to that question to real people, that is the departure point at which you have to start looking for some other organizational affiliation.

For me, the answer to "Why?" for FamilySearch software development is contained in Doctrine and Covenants 128:24 and continues to be a rich source of inspiration for interesting and valuable software contribution.