There’s a saying around our house, “When we make plans, God laughs.” I have tried parsing that numerous times without a lot of success and sometimes, it’s after plans go awry for one reason or another that we have to laugh. We know about hindsight. It’s perfectly clear. We know a fair amount about insight. We understand. It’s foresight that is most challenging, the ability to see what’s ahead, what may be just around the curve that we can’t see.
A plan is just that, no more, no less. There is no guarantee that the plan will be fulfilled. We had a plan recently for some landscaping that included a design for some new plants, an upgrade to the irrigation system and some trimming, cleaning up. As far as we could see, there was nothing wrong with the plan. However, as it turned out, there was something wrong with the person who was supposed to follow and fulfill the plan.
I won’t go into detail about the how, where, when and why the person went off the rails for the past month. I’ll just say the right combination of commitment and skills were missing.
The lesson from this sad experience is while a plan may be essential, what is equally important, if not more so, is the ability of the person(s) carrying the plan forward. I knew from past experience that talent and experience are high on the list of desired characteristics for being part of our team. So why did we miss the mark this time?
We took a chance on someone new, just starting out, hoping to be helpful to a newbie who came with a strong recommendation. However, the big difference between being independent and working on one’s own and working for someone else with close supervision and support was too big of a gap. There could have been an interim step or stage, where the supervision, if not constant and present, would have been available and utilized.
An independent, self-employed contractor, whether in landscaping or anything else, needs some responsible business acumen, a commitment to fulfill promises made, and an understanding of what it means to under promise and over deliver not over promise and under deliver.\
I was sorry that we had to terminate our agreement and in doing so I explained more than once why it wasn’t working. I believe he knew that and did not want to acknowledge or accept the facts. Having had to terminate others in the past when the performance was not acceptable, this is not a new experience for me although often it is for the other. It is not a pleasant encounter.
Now what? Another landscape contractor, a larger and experienced company with a great track record, is coming today and the plan will be revised, updated and put into motion soon. The original plan may be ok or it may be inadequate for accomplishing our goals. Regardless, we’re restarting with a new crew and a fresh approach with a clear understanding of expectations on both sides. God is smiling.
Have you made any plans lately? Are you planning to make some plans? My tagline, which I try to follow personally and professionally, is “Change is inevitable. Plan carefully.” That and “there are two kinds of change, planned and unplanned…”