Planning for Everything – a new book from Peter Morville

by | Feb 19, 2018 | Reviews

I always enjoy talking to Peter Morville. He asks interesting questions that make me think long and hard about my response. A good example is the discussion we had when Peter was developing the structure and content of Planning For Everything. I recall that many of my stories were about the effort that goes in to planning church services. I’ve sat on the console of several cathedral organs and suddenly wondered about some element of the service that I realise I may not have planned as well as I thought I had. Large organ consoles are very high technology but do not offer email or two-way radio!

Now the book has been published and I’ve spent a very enjoyable morning reading it. There are eight chapters with the alliterative titles of Realizing the Future, Framing, Imagining, Narrowing, Deciding, Executing, Reflecting and (to break the pattern) Star Finder. I have a number of books on project management on my shelves but this is not a book specifically about project management. We spend a significant amount of time each day planning for events but never fill in a time sheet to realize how much time we are taking (or perhaps not taking) in the planning process. The result is items missed of a shopping list or failing to add a particular piece of music into my case for a service. Remember that the title of the book is Planning for Everything.

Peter guides the reader through the process of planning through stories that, as is so often the case in knowledge transfer, bring elements of the planning process to life and act as mnemonics for future use. A feature of the book is that way that Peter acts as a way-finder and not as an instructor, and there are many personal memories brought into play to make a specific point. As I read it I not only smiled at his stories but remembered parallel situations in my work and away from it.

The speed of the digital world can easily force us into making a decision because of the insistent messages on the web site or on social media. “Act now to take advantage of this offer”. This book provides not an antidote to this pressure but a way of planning to that you are ready to make a decision only when it suits you and your particular circumstance. This is a fairly short book, just 125 pages, but the fact that it is that length is a tribute to the skill of the author in knowing just what to write, and no more.

The subtitle of the book is The Design of Paths and Goals. If that is something you need help on then this is a book you should read. If you don’t think you need help then reading this book is just as important. The next decision you make without using Peter’s framework could be one you will remember for all the wrong reasons

Martin White