Monday, December 13, 2004

Plan vs. Actual, part 2

Plan vs. Actual, part 2       


Continuing to think carefully about Plan vs. Actual (PvA).


I'm working on a request right now that stumps me.  Has for several weeks.  And I've wondered why. 


The request was a description of a problem.  Yeah, it seemed clear enough.  But I didn't know how to respond to the request. And so I was stumped. 


A few minutes ago, it hit me.  While I had a description of the problem, I had no idea what the requestor would consider a useful response.  Put another way, the requestor did not describe anything even close to a "condition of satisfaction."


An analogy:  The tenant calls the landlord, "The grass is long in the front yard."   An assertion, a statement for which the tenant is willing to provide evidence.  But there is no subsequent request.  Just what does the tenant want??  A clear description in the lease of who is responsible for grass cutting?  The landlord to cut the grass?  The landlord to supply a lawn mower?  Installation of Astroturf?  Reclassification of the front yard as a federal grassland area?


The requestor speeds a solution by stating a condition of satisfaction. "I'll be happy to cut the grass if you can supply a working power mower."  Now the landlord can accept that or offer a counterproposal.  But, without a request, he can only speculate what will satisfy the request. 


Alternatively, the landlord could ask the question herself.  "What are you asking me to do?"  Or frame a condition of satisfaction in the form of a question "Would you cut the grass if I supply the mower?" 


But, without a condition of satisfaction, or something even close to it, little action can happen.  And, in this situation, the Plan is never reached.  Actual is a non-action, vegetative state.


I now know how to handle this issue.  I just proposed a condition that seemed reasonable to me.  The customer accepted that as reasonable...we're off center and moving again. 


Try this today on something that stumps you.  See if it gets things moving.


I hope this is helpful.




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