When a plan comes together.


One of my favorite day-time television shows as a kid was the A-Team. Though Mr. T. was the main attraction for most kids my age, I liked Murdock and his crazy-or-crazy-like-a-fox approach which always solved slightly more problems than it created. 

The brains of the group was “Hannibal” who muttered at the 80% mark of an episode, with a cigar in his mouth, I love it when a plan comes together. 

Plans have been top of mind a lot lately. 

  • During a pickleball practice my partner was insistent about a plan for handling lob shots. She wanted the ‘forehand’ player to get three-quarters of the lobs. I wanted to play it by ear. 
  • During the CoVid19 stock market kerfuffle Lawrence Hamtil tweeted, “Have a plan, but adapt to circumstances as they change. Don’t make rash decisions that could harm your long term goals, but also manage your cash covetously.” 
  • During a podcast with Hal Varian and Tyler Cowen, Varian said “In the textbook, there’s more exactitude than might be necessary in real life. There’s this line that no battle plan has survived an encounter with the enemy and when you look at how decisions are made in organizations, they’re often a lot messier than in the textbooks.” 

It was my pickleball experience when the message hit home. Playing with different partners without a plan led to more chaos and uncertainty. More often our team was out of position and lost points in the confusion. 

When I got back with my Planning Partner the game played smoother and not only was the lob defense better but the subsequent shots were too. We were less out of position. And we didn’t always follow the plan because the starting conditions weren’t ‘textbook’. At first I bristeld at the over-emphasis on handling lobs. Now I like the plan as a framework.

Plans are places to start.

One of Richer Thaler’s emphasises about nudging is that there has to be some kind of default. We can have random defaults, we’ve-always-done-it-this-way defaults, or we can have pro-social (nudge) defaults. All have advantages and drawbacks but they all offer a structure for starting. 

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