I like Derek Sivers a lot. He’s perfectly quirky and embraces the benefits of doing things for the simple hell of it. He’s stumbled upon a few different careers, all driven by his incessant want to create, improve, and write. He writes on nearly everything, most of which he keeps internal while posting only what he deems ready
. Over 10 years ago he posted this short bit, and as simple and intuitive as it seems, our planning is sometimes misguided. The answer can be often be uncovered and built in rather than anticipated and forced.
A new college campus was built, but one thing was still debated:
Where in the grass should we put the paved walkways?
Some people thought the walkways should go around the grass, to leave it green. Some thought the walkways should cut across diagonally.
One professor had the winning idea: Don’t make any walkways this year. At the end of the year, look where the grass has worn away. That shows where the students are walking. Then just pave those paths.
I think about this idea applied to life plans or business plans.
As time goes on, we get smarter. We learn more about ourselves or our customers — what we or they really want. Therefore, we’re at our dumbest at the beginning, and at our smartest at the end.
So when should you make decisions? When you have the most information, when you’re at your smartest: as late as possible.
Like the college campus, you can do without walkways for a year.
Resist the urge to figure it all out in advance. Realize that now, in the beginning, is when you know the least.
When people expect you to make these decisions in advance, get used to saying, “We don’t know yet.” Then tell this simple story about walkways to show them how wise you are.