Following on from my last post, I seem to be coming across a number of writers who are flying in the face of convention as questioning our obsession with project planning. Here's a quote from Seth Kahan in Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out:
Inappropriate emphasis on project planning can kill a good idea. Don't fall into this resource sinkhole early on. Instead, get out and talk to people.
It reminds me of the time, early on in my career, when I got my hands on my first project planning tool - MacProject(!) - running on a stand-alone Mac Classic. I remember getting totally absorbed in this tool, rather like a computer games addict ... until I became dimly aware of my team banging on my door pleading to see me. My first response was, "Don't interrupt me. Can't you see I'm planning here!" Shame on me. These good people needed leading and I needed their conversations to help me shape the project in the real world.
On reflection there was another great piece of software on my Mac that was rather more useful to me in the long term: MacDraw. With this I was able to build soft systems diagrams that key clients found so useful that one of them kept a copy pinned on their wall to track progress toward the target capability. Now, that was a tool that helped purposeful conversations around the project.
The point is, that whilst a measure of planning may be necessary, talking with people intentionally always trumps planning.