If problems arise during the life of a project, our first hunch would be that the project was not properly planned. Most of the time our hunch would be correct. Inadequate planning is more the case than the exception. We can only guess why. Perhaps the reason is that senior management and/or the PM and/or the project team are impatient. They want "to get on with it." Possibly some of the people who should be engaged in planning have heard Tom Peters, well-known searcher-for-excellence and management guru, comment that good planning almost never cuts implementation time and that "Ready, Fire, Aim" is the way good businesses do it.
As a matter of fact, Peters is wrong. There is a ton of research that concludes that careful planning is strongly associated with project success—and to the best of our knowledge there is no research that supports the opposite position. Clearly, planning can be overdone, a condition often called "paralysis by analysis." Somewhere in between the extremes is the happy medium that everyone would like to strike, but this chapter does not seek to define the golden mean between no planning and over-planning (Langley, 1995). We do, however, examine the nature of good planning, and we describe proven methods for generating plans that are adequate to the task of leading a project work force from the start of the project to its successful conclusion. We must start by deciding what things should be a part of a project plan.