Fragile Plan vs Robust Plan

Fragile Plan vs Robust Plan

Derek Sivers made an article about “Making a plan” this summer. As the titel says it´s about the difference between a fragile and a robust plan.

makingplansSivers starts his article with a private story when he was publishing 16 books about 16 countries. He decided to hire one write per country and all the details were up to them. He just gave a direction like “the book need sections on culture, government, business” and so on.

It ended with finding a good writer, missing some and stop working with the rest. Sivers plan was to fragile.

His solution:

Make a robust plan!

Sivers learned a few things:

  1. If you want help, it helps to get specific.
  2. A plan that’s too dependent on any one person is too fragile.

Sivers spent weeks to write down 200 specific question to the different countries. The writers just had to answer those specific questions.

It’s infinitely easier to find someone to answer a specific question than to find someone to impart wisdom on a vague topic. It puts the burden on the asker, to come up with a good question, and lifts the burden from the answerer.


The second part of his solution was “Multiple People”:

Since he hasn´t wanted to have books depending on any one person, he gave the 200 questions to 3 different persons. (One local, one foreigner and one other). He could carry on when someone gave bad or unfinished answers and could combine them.


Lessons learned?

And those lessons are unmercifully true:

If you’re starting a project or company:

  1. Don’t expect anyone to care as much as you.
  2. Don’t require them to think as hard about this as you have.
  3. Do expect them to change their mind and disappear.
  4. Make a robust plan that includes #1-3.

My own experiences and lessons learned are kinda same:

  1. Don´t expect anyone to care as much as you.
  2. Be totally clear with your specifications and briefings.
  3. Test people and processes on a regular basis and change to alternatives if needed.

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