The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world

The Fish Pond And Preplanning

In my previous postings I have introduced the use of a fish pond as a metaphor for leading projects and organizations in our ever changing times.

Thinking about a bucket of water can really help us out. It emphasizes the importance of preparation; the fish pond is all about preplanning.

Preplanning a pond is about the proper selection of the location, the pond size, the population in numbers and the types of fish. We have to think about what plants to use; whether they are oxygenating plants, shallow plants and submerged plants. We have to design the pond and make the necessary steps so that it is not leaking or becomes muddy.

Photography by bfick.

A friend of mine created a Koi Pond in his garden. He dug a huge hole. Plastered it with plastic, so it could contain lots of water. He connected the pump. Poured in hundreds of gallons of water.

He was ready. He threw in his 200 Euro Koi and heard… trrhrrfffjfhhfjjj.

He forgot to shield the pump so the fish could enter the pump.

Water out. Shield the pump. All those gallons of fresh water in and releasing a new, beautiful expensive Koi.

While watching the pond, a Heron flew over and ate his Koi.

Now he has shielded his pond with barb wire and glass ceilings. He’s prepared. His garden looks like a war zone though.

The idea about preplanning is to equip yourself in such a way that you can adapt to circumstances. That you create an start situation that is as good as you possibly can. If you go to the arctic, you take warm cloths, if you go to the tropics you pack T-shirts. If you don’t know, you pack several shirts you can wear over each other, depending on the temperature.

Preplanning is all about the construction of the pond. Once the construction is finished, you have to let the ecosystem take over. The next posting I will be discussing what is happening beneath the surface.

Bas de Baar, blogging as “The Project Shrink“, is taking his message to the International Project Management community with a vengeance: “Projects Are About Humans. Now Deal With That!”


About the Author

Bas de Baar discusses Project Leadership in a global and virtual world through his popular blog and video podcast “The Project Shrink” ( With over a decade spent in the trenches as Software Project Manager within the publishing, financial and public sector, running multi-national teams, he has a lot to talk about. Bas holds a masters degree in Business Informatics and lives with his wife in The Netherlands. He is author of the book “Surprise! Now You’re a Software Project Manager” and is a member of The PMI New Media Council.
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