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Planning is an activity related to model future activities, based on knowledge about how things may play out. Planning is operating between what is predictable and what can happen unexpectedly. It is about scheduling resource allocation based on a predefined process (model of future activities) that will play out into the future.

It is the preferred mode for addressing future activities of an organization, in a command and control paradigm.

Planning is more suitable in a predictable environment, such as manufacturing, where a process can be scripted.It is less suitable in a creative environment, which is highly unpredictable. Self organization, or real-time situational adaptation to deal with an issue, is adapted for chaotic situations. Stigmergy is one mechanism that works well in these conditions.

Planning in ventures and projects

See distinction between venture and project.

No one plans Wikipedia. People just go there and create pages or improve the existing ones. But this activity is structured by rules, some of which are embedded as features of the platform itself (the architecture of the digital environment). Wikipedia is produced second-by-second through stigmergy, similar to how ants self-organize to perform their activities that sustain their colony.

Sensorica’s methodology is a compromise between pure stigmergy and central planning.

Pure stigmergy works well when a large number of agents are assembled for a given endeavor, with enough time and resources to perform a wide horizontal exploration of the problem at stake (similar to thousand ants going randomly in all directions searching for food). In reality, open ventures operate with a small number of affiliates and are constrained by time and resources. We try to find a balance between following some trusted experienced affiliates while keeping the free exploration active. Directions given by trusted experienced affiliates help the venture save resources otherwise consumed in blind exploration, stigmergy allows marginal agents with great ideas to migrate towards the core of activities.

It’s about balancing between efficiency and opportunity costs.

Working environment layout

For the moment, sensoricans use Google docs as a digital environments for work. These environments are structured in 3 main sections: signalizationItalic text, contentItalic text and interactionItalic text. The design is conditioned by stigmergy. The content section contains up-to-date documentation about past work done signalization section contains digital pheromones, which indicate possible actions. It is the territory already explored and mapped by the ants. The signalization section contains instructions about action that needs to be taken. It contains digital pheromones. The interaction section is a suite of tools that allows agents to coordinate actions synchronously or asynchronously.

The minimal central planning is performed by the core group. The process is very agile, a balance between planning and emergence, coupled with the stigmergic self- organization.

Manufacturing, or production is a more scripted activity, which can be better planned. The planning includes work that needs to be done and resources that need to be consumed or used. The plan becomes a script, which is designed to optimize parameters such as efficiency, environmental impact, social aspects of work, etc.

NOTE: It is highly advised that planning and logging are done in the same place. Sensorica uses the NRP-CAS to do both. In the past, some Sensorica affiliates have proposed to use other planning tools made by third parties that have better user interface and experience (ex. Trello). If planning and logging are done in two different places, we create an overhead, the task of transferring data from the planning environment to the logging environment, work that no one likes to do. Even if this transfer can be automated using an API, we we still create extra work that requires more specialized and rare skills, which is to maintain the API, so that the two services continue to talk to each others as they both evolve.

In relation to NRP-CAS

Plan small tasks

Tasks pup up every day within an OVN. In most cases, affiliates just do stuff as the need arises, without creating tasks in a planning and management tool, such as the NRP-CAS. Creating tasks makes activity more transparent, induces stigmergy, helps the talent allocation process, and makes logging of activities more accountable, etc. There is a balance to strike between bothering to create a task for everything and being efficient doing what's necessary.

The minimal planning is done using the NRP-CAS, employing a methodology that has been formalized using Workflow recipes. See more on the Recipe page.

A Resource type list can also be used to plan tasks and even projects. The difference between a Workflow recipe and a Resource Type list is that the first one has one deliverable or output and the second one can have many outputs. There is a way to create other deliverables in Workflow recipes.

Both planning methods don't support cycles as in agile development. Cycles are there and one can still use the tools in the NRP-CAS to work around that problem. Ask Bob, Lynn and Tibi for more.

Some methodologies have been designed by Tibi, Fernando and Lynn, with the help of Bob. All methodologies are templates that anyone can fork and improve.

To plan a venture just go to the Plan Work Order Using Recipe. You can get there from the Demand page.

You can schedule and plan small tasks using the NRP-CAS by employing processes. Process are created in context, i.e. for projects. The creation of a process needs to specify a project.

Individuals can plan their daily activities using the ToDo tool in the NRP-CAS.

Planning production

Manufacturing uses a manufacturing Recipe. These activities are more scripted.

See also