Civic Diary: The Lack Of Planning

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I’ve been thinking about why politics sucks.  When the world is burning up, and people blame Millennials for problems the previous generations created, and we put migrant kids in jail, you kind of wonder “what the hell happened.”

Now is where I get very weird and discuss the ability to plan and organize.  Also, yes, this is going to involve Agile and Project Management, and no it’s not bullshit.  I’m serious.

One of the things I noticed over the years is that people are often terrible at planning – when you’re a planning professional, it gets noticeable.  You’re hired to help people get their act together, which tells you that they can’t do it themselves or don’t have the time.

As you help people plan – and watch plans fall apart – you realize many people can’t plan for crap.  This is nothing against them – we’re not taught to plan or organize very well. However, they still fail, and why don’t we do anything about it?

A thing we get taught in any form of planning or management, from typical Waterfall to Scrum, is that you need a goal.  If you have a goal, you can direct your actions and make things work, and if you fail, you know why so you can adjust and try again.

So how many people are good at setting goals and measuring them?  I’m guessing a lot of us aren’t as good at it as we’d like to be – myself included (one thing you get taught in management practices is to keep learning).

Apply this to politics.  How many of us have a vision for the world, our lives, our countries, and the future?  How many of us have an idea of steps like A to B?  How many of us have at least a vision to work towards that makes sense, and we can evaluate?

Yeah, I know the answer.  I didn’t for a lot of my life, only the last decade or so did I think about these things.

Now apply this to politicians and big money donors and the like.  Sure they think they have a plan, but also have a lot of money and power, so they don’t have to think about results (beyond “hey I got more money and power.”).  The world burns and things fall apart, but they’re shielded by money and power so they can avoid consequences of bad choices for a long time – while we get to pay for them.

No vision, no plan, no goals, just flailing around.  If you have enough money or power, you can try to grab more, but it won’t solve the problems bearing down on us (hell, it makes them worse).

Right now if you look at the good things in the world, think how many people who helped make them happen did plan, did focus, did think.  Feel like we’ve got enough people like that?  Probably not.

We’ve left a lot of the world in the hands of surprisingly few people who have their shit together.  It’s not fair to them.

So yeah, if you want to change the world, start learning productivity techniques and such and use it to get your personal and political life in order.  Think about goals and plans and visions – because by and large, we’re kinda bad at them.

Also, it’s going to kill us if we’re not careful.

Steven Savage