Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

There’s a saying, or perhaps it’s a proverb or idiom about planning. I know it as

When man plans the devil laughs…

But I’ve also heard variations including, god, ducks, and chaos.


Chaos, in the Ancient Greek creation myths, was the first entity.

According to Hesiod, Chaos was a gaping abyss located somewhere between earth and Tartaris.

Somewhat later Ovid described it as a sort of seething mass of discordant confusion.

Half the first entity, half possibility.

Chaos is “generally” understood as a place of gloomy darkness. From which, the Philosophers tell us, everything else arose, from the gods, to the earth, night and day, and eventually us.

I mention this, because “gloomy darkness” and “discordant confusion” are some possible ways of looking at life when things go awry.


If first, there was chaos, then second must be order.

My friend Katy seems to me (at times) chaotic. She’s not a planner.

Katy can keep all the stuff she wants to do in her head, and reprioritise in a split second. Changing directions, turning back (or in a completely different direction) with seemingly no rhyme or reason. Simply because right now, she’s just not feeling it. But she has another feeling, and this one’s perfect for right now.

Katy thrives in chaos, while I stand, mouth agape.

I, on the other hand, am a planner. For decades, it was my job to make order from chaos – for myself and up to 90 other people at the same time. Glueing the pieces of the broken schedule back together.

So when chaos intervenes (as it has recently) and throws me into that gloomy darkness of discordant confusion, Katy’s doing the laughing.


Kintsugi is the Japanese art of highlighting repaired pottery with gold dusted joins to make the result more beautiful than the original artefact.

It relates to the concept of wabi-sabi; the acceptance of transcience and imperfection.

And in a less direct way, kaizen, which is a process of continual improvement (like kanban, both pioneered by Toyota).

You can run the process as a once off, or as part of your usual planning cycle. Either way, at the end of the process/cycle, you look for the places that didn’t run smoothly, and make any tiny adjustments your findings call for.

Hopefully resulting in a smoother process next time.

End of the Line

In this instance, I wish I could be a little more like Katy.

Give myself grace for everything going off the rails. It’s not enirely my fault, some things you just can’t plan for.

Sometimes you need two “plans,” one for “good” days when you can get things done, and one for “bad” days, when you might’ve been better off staying in bed!

For more Haiku, click here.


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