Strategic Planning and the Pumpkin Patch

Strategic Planning and the Pumpkin Patch
October 15, 2010 Derek Fournier

As we reviewed in the previous post, the Pumpkin Patch is a significant undertaking. The gourds are different sizes and types and the setup must allow many shoppers and visitors to view and select their gourds as well as other goods and services from the church. Additionally, the ever-popular hay-couch has to be the center of the display as families line up to get their fall pictures taken with the backdrop of October colors and sights.

So as this project started, there were some pretty clear goals. Create an accessible, pleasant and efficient pumpkin patch that will allow our neighbors to bring their families in shop and take photos. The pumpkins and gourds needed to be positioned on pallets to keep them off the ground in an effort to slow the rate of decomposition and insect involvement. The property was a large rectangle with one entrance. The truck would be parked outside the entrance for unloading. Volunteers have already signed up for about 6 hours worth of work to accomplish this feat and those volunteers range form 5 – 60 years old of all genders and physical capabilities. They are doing this to help. There is no compensation above and beyond the sense of helping out the church and doing something nice for the community (with the exception of the Boy Scouts who apparently get some sort of credit for this stuff. I kept an eye on those guys!)

At this point, you have all of the information needed to plan this project. One truck with one entry point would be the source for gourds ranging in weight from under 1 pound to well over 60 pounds which needed to be placed. We had a workforce that was not going to receive any special compensation with little official leadership, no discernible roadmap or planning and very little hope of an efficient project. Amazing how similar this is to a lot of projects I have seen in the business world. The core parts are present:

  1. A general need
  2. A weak plan
  3. A bunch of resource (quality, quantity and motivation all questionable)
  4. A fuzzy timeline

Now as the day started to unfold, the team began to realize the strengths and weaknesses of each other. They also noticed the absence of forethought in the form of a plan (Strategy) and as frustration and fatigue started to set in through the brute force effort, frustration started to surface. This led to the next dysfunctional event in poorly run projects: the self appointed leader.

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