I organized my desk today and, in the process, discovered that I love journals, notebooks, and pens. So much that the header photo on my blog page at www.davidhersher.com/blog is a stack of my various journals: Moleskines, Leuchtturms, Field Notes, a Rocketbook Wave, and a whole bunch of dime composition books that I greedily hoard from Target during the post-back to school clearance sale. I won’t even mention the 3x5 note cards.
I also have a thing for organizers. At various times I’ve used a Franklin day planner, the Full Focus planner by Michael Hyatt, bullet journals, and online calendars to keep my life in order and my goals in focus.
If I had a nice journal, I would feel obligated to write in it,
If I had a daily planner, I would be able to stay on goal,
If I had a long-term planner, I would keep my eyes above the weeds,
If I had a cheap notebook, I wouldn’t be afraid of lousy first drafts.
Despite all of these different tools, this is still my first blog post in almost two weeks.
The truth is that the best tool will not solve for a lousy process. It doesn’t matter what you have to write with or in if you don’t sit down every day and write. In fact, two of my favorite writers, Elmore Leonard and Hemingway, started with plain pencil and paper (29-cent pencils for Leonard, as a matter of fact). It doesn’t matter where your goals are recorded if you don’t break them into actionable tasks or revisit them regularly.
I see PMs and organizations do the same thing. They chase new software with extra bells and whistles to help them manage their failing projects when it’s the process that is broken. The new tool might give them a couple of extra ways to measure how they are failing. But it won’t fix the problem.
Process can’t be parachuted in. It must fit the organization. Do you act fast and worry later? You’ll constantly be at odds with a plan-driven or waterfall method. Once you find the process that works for you and your team, you can begin looking for the tools to support it.
Culture, process, then tools. Get the first two correct and you may find that you don’t have to overspend on the tools.
After all, Leonard and Hemingway did just fine with pencil and paper.