composition-1837242_1280Four years ago I was given a dressing-down by a venture capital investor for taking handwritten notes at our meeting. If I wanted to fund a technology start-up he told me,  I needed to be capturing all my notes electronically.

Why he was likely wrong can be found in the podcast transcript here.

If you don’t care to read the transcript, a highlight is that writing by hand forces (allows) the mind to encode the information being experienced, so it can be converted into a construct in the brain we can better access later. Helping us to truly learn rather than simply take dictation.

There are some parallels in how we think about using the Last Planner System. One common complaint is that the system is “a lot of work.” While the rebuttal is that it is much less work than fixing all the problems caused by poor planning conversations, there is a desire to find ways to make administering the Last Planner less work – and that’s a good thing. A number of helpful software tools have been developed to help in this regard, and teams are encouraged to explore how these tools might help improve their planning conversations.

And that’s the key – improving planning conversations. In the quest for efficiency some teams might be tempted to automate the planning conversations – to believe they can have that magical pull planning session and let the software tell them what needs to happen each day. That’s not efficiency – that’s a wasteful form of haste.

This isn’t an argument to submit weekly work plans by hand. Electronic versions are clearly easier to distribute and sort to view from various perspectives. This is encouragement to last planners to slow down your thinking, taking the time to think about the work and how it can be approved. Spend time looking past the Percent Plan Complete and Tasks Made Ready numbers into what the failures behind these numbers can teach. Write down and sketch, by hand, the ideas that deserve testing. Let writing and drawing by hand help your thinking. Thinking is the most valuable part of the work last planners perform.