Thursday, March 21, 2013

When things change

We spent half of our drive today on the speakerphone with Cindy adjusting our afternoon plans... There is a school event that I was scheduled to attend because Cindy had to take Nico to tennis at the same time. A few days ago the time of Nico's tennis practice changed but we didn't asses, until the last moment, the impact that that had on the rest of our plans. Not a big deal today, but this reminded of more important situations in which circumstances change and we don't adjust accordingly.

A typical situation is when we make a plan based on certain constraints, some of the constraints later change, but we forget to adjust the plan optimizing for the new constraints. For example, we plan a trip on a certain day because something prevents us from leaving earlier (even though earlier would be better and cheaper). The constraint goes away but we leave the trip as is.

Sometime we overreact. We come up with a well thought out plan initially but at the last moment something changes. We then improvise a new plan which can often be worst than the original - due to the hastiness of the planning. Maybe the new plan was no longer viable, thus we have no alternative but to change it. Yet sometimes the original plan remains valid and we mess things up trying to over-optimize.

Takeaway? Think of the implications when things change. Make sure everyone who is involved is aware of the changes. Discuss whether the changes require a change in the plan, or whether a change is optional. Either way, if you need to make a new plan, try to put as much planning & thinking into the new plan as you did into the original one.

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