Skip to main content

Planner or doer, which one are you?

In General Stanley McCrystal’s book “Team of Teams” he discusses the “Cathedral and Bazaar” conundrum they were dealing with in Afghanistan at the time.

Its an analogy for how micro-societies work, I”ll save you the details and get to the point.

The basic premise is there are two ways to execute an idea:

1) The Cathedral- is a meticulously planned idea where every detail is reviewed over and over and ever possible scenario is explored in order to prevent mistakes.  

The good-Its incredibly organized and stable.

The bad- It’s like a glacier. Change take an extremely long time.  The most minute error can set back planning and have massive repercussions, and completion takes 100 years

2) The Bazzar- is a crazy setting where no structure exists and the rules are unspoken ones that only those who live in the bazaar know and understand.

The good- It works and does so with astonishing efficiency considering nobody knows how it works.

The bad- problem solving is virtually impossible because nobody knows how it works.  You’re stuck with what you’ve got, so everyone works around problems.

I generally tend to lean towards the bizaar, it just suits my personality better.

“I”ll figure it out!” hahaha

Truthfully, working with people who are meticulous planners is incredibly challenging for me and something I have to keep in mind.

I’m sure those people hate working with me because they know mistakes are on the horizon.

Over the years I’ve tried to strike a balance of both the Cathedral and the Bazaar.

Plan ahead but don’t let a perfect plan push out any sort of efficiency.

                                  There is value in planning and mistakes. 

How often to we do this to ourselves?

“I’ll start working on nutrition when I find the right plan!”

“I’m gonna go the gym but only once I get in shape.”

“I’ll start my business once everything settles down.”

“We’ll plan date night after all the kid’s schedules ease up.”

Here’s the reality:

Most of our lives are the Bazaar while we live with the delusion of the Cathedral.

So what do we do?

1) Put your plan together, but make it a rough plan. Once you have it, get moving.

2) Don’t let set backs derail the plan, there are lessons to be learned there. Learn them and move on.

3) Accept that there is no perfect scenario. Being flexible will result in less disappointment, and thus more happiness.

Are you the Cathedral or the Bazaar?  I was the Bazaar.

Now I’m trying to be the Cathedral, disguised as the Bazaar.