Fallacy Friday! Pooing and planning

Welcome to Fallacy Friday! This is part one of a major new series that will every Friday explore two common things that everybody does that nobody knows they’re doing wrong!

1: Pooing


Everybody poos, right?
But if you use that object above, you’re probably pooing wrong.

As wikipedia describes it

“A toilet is a sanitation fixture used primarily for the disposal of human excrement and urine, often found in a small room referred to as a toilet/bathroom/lavatory”.

Never a truer word spoken.

The lav/loo/John/bog has brought myriad benefits to society. No more being drenched with a stranger’s night-soil when standing underneath a bedroom window in the morning. Fewer flies around open dunnies leaking excrement into your drinking water. All sorts.
But just as sugar and heroin, those other inventions of the industrial society, have their drawbacks as well as their pleasures, the pan too carries a sting in its gleaming porcelain tail.

We have designed the toilet all wrong!

Humans were evolved to crimp one off squatting, not sitting. Humans have a muscle up their chuff that is designed to relax in squatting position, but is tight when seated. This muscle, the nipsy, is an important valve between the inside and outside world. A study found that squatting made defecation easier and completion took one whole minute less, due to the correct position being adopted.

So, what to do Science?

I almost want to shout “TA-DAAAA!!”

If something as natural yet civilised as a sit-down dump is being done wrong, what else is there that has been overlooked?

2: Planning

Everybody plans in work right?
What are we, anarchists?20120921-140949.jpg

But does it work?
Well studies show 80% of Prince2 planned projects don’t work, for a kick off. There’s plenty you can have a go at Prince2 for, but what about planning in general?

What’s the first thing managers in command and control organisations do, when faced with a problem? The poor response is to act without thinking. But worse, much worse, is the robust sensible planning response.
Humans can’t plan much beyond the weekly shop. There’s even a name for it, the Planning Fallacy. People are over optimistic, assume the best will happen despite all experience of it rarely happening, and worse, much worse, they follow the plan.

What worse, doing the wrong thing or doing the right thing? When following a plan people don’t notice this question, as their focus shifts from what they are doing to how they are doing it. The steps in the plan, the project milestones and deliverables, these are the focus. So regardless of whether the right or wrong thing is being done, planning’s aim is in ensuring it will be done well regardless.

Learning is cyclical, planning is linear. What does a project end with? A lessons learned exercise. Too late! You’ll not be doing this again, off to something else next week. The lessons, if they truly are learned, are learned during, so action should be taken during not at the end when it’s too late.

But what you reward and pay attention to is encouraged. Projects accomplished on time and to original plan are classed as successes. Think of all the poor services you deal with everyday, within them there are things seen as wonderful because they were delivered on time and to budget even if they add nothing to solving customers problems.

Pooing can be done properly by simply raising the feet onto a box by 6 inches. No need for acrobatic squatting.

Planning? That can be “done properly” by stopping doing it. Unless you’re building bridges or houses, and you’ve done it many times before, your plan is just an optimistic guess at the future based on no knowledge. Instead concentrate on purpose, get knowledge and experiment against purpose iteratively and continually.

NEXT WEEK: “You’re eating your banana all wrong!” and why clear communication is neither clear nor communication.

This entry was posted in fallacy friday, psychology, systems thinking, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Fallacy Friday! Pooing and planning

  1. Charles Beauregard says:

    When I was in Thailand I found the design of their toilets lent themselves a lot more to the activity of squatting: http://www.learnthaiculture.com/thai_culture_thai_toilet.shtml

    If only I’d known about systems thinking then. I could have made a control chart looking the time spent in there and the difference in variation between those and a Western toilet. That would have been real knowledge.


  2. Leyton says:

    “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
    ~Winston Churchill, WWII.


  3. Eartha says:

    ok. Makes sense to me. You provided one plausible solution to the pooing issue. What about the planning issue?


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