Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Seven P's

Many moons ago I was going through a management training class led by an ex-military officer, and eventually the discussion came around to planning. As any manager worth his or her salt knows, lack of good planning is at the root of most problems. And, no doubt, you've heard the folksy sayings that underscore this idea, such as, "Failing to plan is planning to fail."

During his talk, our trainer peppered his presentation with classic military terminology that the military and non-military alike could appreciate. There was the infamous "SNAFU," or "Situation Normal -- All Fouled Up." And of course "blivit," which, loosely translated, means 10 pounds of manure in a 5 pound bag. If you've ever had a project go south on you, you know what I'm talking about.

But midway thorough the presentation, our trainer made a passing reference to the "Seven P's" and got a few knowing nods of approval from others (I presumed) who also served in the military. Since the closest I've ever come to serving my country in uniform was watching all 10 episodes of "Band of Brothers," I was at a disadvantage, so on a break I asked him to define the "Seven P's."

He explained that the military is acronym crazy, probably because they are snappy and easy to remember when bullets are flying over your head. The Seven P's, he said, stand for:


OK, now I admit that "failing to plan is planning to fail" might be a better phrase for a dinner table discussion, but I always seem to gravitate to the Seven P's when I'm working on a gnarly project that looks more like a blivit and is halfway to a SNAFU.

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