Plans Never Err
I once tried to make sous vide mashed potatoes, where potatoes are cooked without introducing water. When I went to cook the potatoes, the sous vide machine broke. I boiled the potatoes instead, but I still added the same amount of butter as the original recipe called for. Since boiling introduces water, the result was buttery goop.
When I planned to make mashed potatoes, I assumed the sous vide machine worked. When it didn’t, I replaced the broken step. I forgot that not introducing water was important. I didn’t know which properties of the original step were important to preserve. My false assumption had global consequences, so my local fix did not succeed.
No plan survives contact with the enemy.
All plans inevitably fail. That does not make planning a useless exercise. What makes a plan useless is if it has no contingency for failure. This must be fixed; a simple patch is including “make a new plan” as part of your plan. This is the minimum necessary work to have a plan at all. Any minimally adequate plan makes no errors.
All plans implicitly assume the world operates in a given way. As soon as your plan fails a single time, this invalidates one of the assumptions that went into your plan. Any failure, even a tiny one, means you believed something false about the world when the plan was originally created. If a plan fails anywhere, it’s useless everywhere.
If you were clever, you included contingencies. You can assume less by having conditionals: “Do A. If B happens, then do C; if D happens, do E; else, re-plan.”
If you were not clever, then you didn’t include contingencies. You only have expectations. As soon as those expectations are violated, you must re-plan.
If you were extremely not clever, you didn’t even have expectations. Your plan is just a list of actions. Unless you are good at modeling the world, you are already doomed.
Reality is your enemy. No plan survives. Learn to build from the wreckage.