Saturday, May 31, 2008

When Planners and Improvisers Meet

It can be a rough day when planners and improvisers meet.

The planner has thought ahead and has carefully allotted specific amounts of time for various tasks and, of course, all has been prioritized. Lists have been made. If a chart is not nearby rest assured one is in the planner's mind.

The improviser, governed by a general idea of what needs to be done, barely nods to the plan and moves about like a gnat, working on this and then flying to that for just a while, and then over to something near the end of the planner's construct.

It drives the planner nuts in much the same way that the improviser would be frustrated if forced to adopt a methodical approach.

If progress is to be made and bloodshed avoided, both need to recognize their styles and acknowledge the advantages and downsides of each. Focusing on dulling the points of greatest irritation is crucial. For example, improvisers should be more sensitive to the disruption caused by their freeflow approach and planners should accept that addressing certain items out of sequence can have benefits. It won't be easy, but such accommodation is workable.

By the way, planners and improvisers often marry one another. It's a rule of life.


Anonymous said...

I've often thought about the conflict between production and sales. The salesman would be the imnprovisor, constantly being pushed by the clients to make immediate commitments to needs that can change rapidly, at different times, in a diverse buying environment. The production manager meanwhile plays it more conservatively and closer to the vest - he/she knows the risks, where things can go wrong, and carefully blueprints each project from beginning to end.
Somewhere there needs to be that compromise - and that is the most difficult part of business. It speaks more to Sonnenfeld's quote above - use the network to achieve what really is the ultimate goal...a satisfied client who will think of you first when the next need arises.

Michael Wade said...


Very good point. With the right balance, the two views become a competitive advantage.