The Discipline of Planning

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By Bob Jones, President, Landscape Construction Division

We talk a lot about planning. That’s because, while we all know how important it is, we often fall short in actually doing it. There are a lot of reasons why: we’re busy, it takes too much time, “this job is a simple one,” we don’t know where to start, and so on. The fact is that we often lack discipline. Very often, we are successful in creating a plan, but as soon as we get busy, distracted, or face a obstacle, it goes out the window. So while we know the benefits of planning, it is also very easy to not do it, or at least, not do it well. So, we know we should plan, but don’t—what’s next?

The answer lies is in a much-used cliché’: “inspect what you expect.” We have processes, we have policies, and we have a number of best practices in place. None of these are effective if we are not following up on the execution of them. In landscape construction, there are many questions we should be asking ourselves: Is the job package complete? Have we put together a project schedule? What about a submittal log? The list goes on. There are many players in a branch that have to come together to successfully complete a project. All of these people have responsibilities and will participate in a number of project meetings. But for a common goal to be achieved, every member of the project team has to “inspect what we expect.” The discipline of planning, when done correctly, eliminates all of the excuses we use to “save time” by not planning. Yes, it will certainly take more time up front to put together a proper plan and to manage that plan, but after almost 50 years of experience in the business, we know that we will save a tremendous amount of time on the overall project, have less surprises, and a happier customer in the end.

These are the moments when great projects are made or lost. Do we take a moment to pull the team together and change the plan and discuss a new strategy? Or do we put our heads down and push forward regardless of changes or circumstance? We all know the right answer. Let’s use more discipline in managing our plans instead of just working hard and hoping for the best.