Less planning means more productivity

Too much planning is detrimental to productivity

Is perfect planning the key to a successful project? Not necessarily. One can also exaggerate. Good preparation doesn't always mean good results. Sometimes over-planning even leads to failure. Especially when creativity is required, the following applies: less is more. Because not everything can be planned.

Refraining from preparations - is that possible?

Is it even possible to storm off without any preparation or structure? Does everything good and beautiful come out of the chaos? Maybe. Nevertheless: to forego excessive preparations does not mean to work without structure. It doesn't work without a framework that allows projects and ideas to develop. More on this below. First, let's look at the disadvantages of planning too much.

The cons of too much planning

Planning means wasting time

The idea is there, and you can start right away. Quickly make a mind map, create a to-do list, coordinate with your colleagues, get a few opinions, make a time estimate, create a concept, work out the strategy, read the article on the topic, then you can really start.
Why not drop all the nonsense and start right away? Are detailed plans always helpful, right down to the last detail? Shouldn't you just start? Don't go, do you think? Alright Is more productive in some situations. Initially doing countless coordination and strategy rounds usually doesn't help, but it costs a lot of time and energy.

We are prepared

If you just get started, you will be surprised how much you already know about the topic. You may be surprised to find out that the first litter is already quite good. And that without reading numerous articles and books beforehand.

The perfectionism trap

Perfectionists in particular benefit from just starting out. Because they tend to never finish anything and get lost in endless planning. On the other hand, if you decide to plan less and get started as quickly as possible, you reward yourself by getting results quickly. For perfectionists an unfamiliar experience that can offer quite a few surprises.

Openness - not planning - takes us further

The less we plan and prepare, the more openly we approach a task. We are not influenced by other opinions and we do not run the risk of repeating what is already known. Instead of reproducing the ideas of others and developing more and more variants of the one idea that was original ten years ago, we can create something new.

Chance to create something unique and innovative

By approaching a topic unprepared and working on it without outside influences, we gain completely new possibilities. We may find a solution to a known problem that is significantly more elegant and effective than all previous solutions.

As long as we concentrate only on the known, we cannot develop anything new.

Worse still: Most of the solutions fall back on what is already available. So one copies the other, everyone influences one another. At some point everything is the same.

Preparations are the death of all creativity

Creativity needs space, it must be able to develop. Those who are unwilling to make mistakes or to be ridiculous can never be creative. But excessive preparations force you into a corset of specifications and thus kill any innovation potential.

By looking for best practices beforehand, you take the chance to develop a best practice yourself.

The tried and tested is not the best

Just because a solution is tried and tested doesn't mean it is the best possible solution. It is possible that no one has found the perfect solution yet. Perhaps the proven approach is so mature that it cannot be improved upon. To find something better, we have to break new ground. That is only possible if we go to the task unencumbered.

Own ideas are the stronger ideas

Everyone has probably already experienced this: someone comes up with an idea that - to put it mildly - sounds quite absurd. Nevertheless, he manages to inspire the audience.
You can do this if you identify with the idea. Then you become authentic and convincing. If we have developed something of our own that we are convinced of, we stand behind it. Our enthusiasm becomes authentic and that convinces.
Anyone who just presents any clone on the grounds that many others have been successful with similar approaches cannot convince. He's probably not even convinced of it himself.

Preparation leads to bad solutions

Not only do extensive preparations destroy any innovative strength, they are often a guarantee for poor solutions. Anyone who just looks at how others have solved similar challenges is likely to fall victim to a fallacy. Just because two problems appear similar doesn't mean that the same approach will work for both.
Other factors that we cannot identify may play a role in one problem. Therefore, a different approach is needed. Or the supposedly successful approach was not responsible for the success at all. As outsiders, it is difficult for us to assess this.

Just because it works for one thing doesn't have to work for another.

Being really haphazard - productive with little planning

So far it is clear: Too much planning is not always the right way to go. Is that now a free ticket to get started without any concept in the future? Or: without a brain and understanding? No. A lack of plan also needs a plan.

It should not be perfect, but testable

Even if you start without major planning phases, it is necessary to have a goal. It is less about a concrete idea of ​​how the final result should be. It is enough to have an idea, a vision that gives a direction.
When you get started, the aim must not be to get a result that is as perfectly worked out as possible, the aim is to get something to test. This is tried out and it can prove itself in reality. A prototype or a simple test version is sufficient.

First results are better than no results

The aim should always be to get something concrete quickly. Based on this, work is continued and optimized. In the worst case, you start all over again. Since the effort was not particularly great, it is not bad and thanks to the experience you are far smarter. This knowledge cannot be obtained through planning.
Receiving a testable product is more important than a perfect design, a sophisticated concept or a meticulously planned project plan. That can be ugly and flawed. As long as it allows assessments like in real life, it is more helpful than any planning phase.
Detailed planning means that it will take longer to get the first results. We need this, however, in order to recognize whether an idea makes sense. Excessive planning doesn't prevent failure.

Faster thanks to agility

Such a procedure corresponds to the methods of agile project management. These aim to get a functional product quickly. With classic project management, on the other hand, the functioning product is only at the end, which is then as final as possible. Larger change requests are undesirable and often result in the project failing.
The agile approaches, on the other hand, are about quickly getting the first testable results after brief planning. These do not have to be perfect, they are the basis for further action. Mistakes are not bad, but valuable experience and changes are part of the process. The planning phase is deliberately kept short.
However, agile methods are not only useful for the project teams. Even lone fighters can achieve very good results and move forward quickly with agile methods such as Kanban.


Detailed planning is no guarantee of better results. Often they are even an obstacle. They destroy creativity, lead to mediocrity and stand in the way of innovation and independence. Preparations should make you feel safe. However, this is a deceptive assessment. Excessive preparations, detailed planning and in-depth research are often not productive, but only time wasters. We need less planning, but more courage to get started and recognize the opportunity in openness.

tl; dr

Excessive planning harms productivity and creativity. If you plan less, you will get useful results faster.