“I hate half-built bridges!” It was a side comment from the CEO of a hot start-up as we walked through his offices.  He used the phrase to refer to unfinished projects and projects where half-way through, you might wonder, “Where were we going with this again?”  And his statement gets to the essence of an important issue.

It’s planning season.  Around the world, leaders of organizations and teams are finishing up their plans for 2012. If they’re good, they’re reviewing what happened in 2011 to see where they’ve excelled and where things have gone a little sideways.

When any of us do this, we may discover half-built bridges.  I’m all for tests and pilots and trials (more on that in a later post), but bridges aren’t usually seen as experiments.  They’re a bit more permanent than that. You expect them to be completed.

So how do you get your bridges built? Start with a proven planning principle:

Perspective precedes planning

The key to getting your bridge over is to get yourself (and your team) up. Everyday life in most organizations drags us down, down, down into the details and the daily grind.  We shouldn’t for a minute disrespect the daily grind since most successful people and organizations do their share of grinding.

But when we linger too long down in the details, we’re likely to produce more half-built bridges.  We haven’t elevated our perspective to see where we are, where we’ve come from, and the options for where we might want to go.  So we just start digging, and pouring concrete, and laying steel… until we wake up one day and say, “Where is this bridge going?”

What bridges might go unfinished for you? Would a little perspective time help you pour concrete in the best places?