The planning game (sic)

I was having a conversation with a fellow consultant about how, at times, it is very hard to do the right thing because of obstacles from the client organization – its culture, its skills and its deeply entrenched processes. The processes seem to encourage more processes, they seem to allow people to hide behind these processes and overall allow time to pass by while nothing gets done – and all the time people get promotions and raises from doing all of the above rather well.

Bizzare. Anyway – I was complaining to him about such situations – and he asked me to just play the game. Plan for the needed activities and tasks – and when things don’t get done (as expected), replan. That is what most people in these organizations do, he says, and that is what they expect. Grok the idea that you – as a manager – never really do more than facilitating your team so they can do what they need to. But if nothing gets done from their end – you, the afore-mentioned manager, have to facilitate their next attempt. All the time, of course, while following the appropriate processes. This is how executives are made.

Boy. It was quite disheartening to hear – but unfortunately, I could see – quite true. I guess, this is also the reason why consulting companies are in business. To try and get the real work done – while everyone else plays the game – the planning game.