Just-in-Time Planning

How “Planned Evolution”
Ensures You Finish Complex, Long-Term Projects

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This class was recently held. Watch here for the new recordings product.

This class teaches a revolutionary way to plan complex, long-term projects so you can finish them. I call this approach “Just-in-Time Planning,” because it rejects both the over-planning that bogs down many ambitious undertakings, and the arbitrary “just do something” approach, which leads to shoddy work and wasted effort.

Image of runner crossing finish lineHow much time has gone down the drain in ambitious projects that are never finished? How many work projects limp along without results until mercifully canceled?

When there’s been time invested, but no progress, it can seem like the task is impossible. But that is rarely the case. Moreover, when you have a desire to do something you believe is impossible, that is a signal that there’s an important value at stake. Why else would you — or your company — want something that seems to contradict reality?

None of us can afford to waste our time on literally impossible tasks. For truly important projects, it’s essential to find a way forward that guarantees you will make progress if you put in the time, or at least clarify what can be done.

I first came across Jean Moroney’s “Just in Time Planning” process in 2016. By 2020, I had used the process so often that I created a template for the steps in my electronic note-taking program. I find Jean’s JIT Planning indispensable for ensuring my best chance at pursuing truly self-interested goals in a positive frame of mind.

Paula Hall

Writer and Attorney

This class offers a method that helps you identify and embrace what matters most, then follow through with determination. This is an approach that fuels your sense of pride and confidence.

In this class, you will learn:

  • How to make tangible progress on open-ended projects so you never lose momentum on them
  • First-Aid for dealing with overwhelming complexity when you first start a project
  • A powerful tool for ensuring you get the best possible results within your time or budget constraints
  • The key to defusing perfectionism that stops you from finishing

This class reflects my (Jean Moroney’s) distinctive perspective on planning. I generalized the method from my eclectic experiences. As an engineer, I made prototypes, wrote pseudo-code, and did proof of concept experiments. As a writer, I identify themes, make outlines, and write synopses. When I paint, I start with a sketch, then put in the major blocks, then the details. All of these processes have one thing in common: they get the basics done first, then build on that foundation. If you are an entrepreneur, you may have seen similar concepts in the “Lean” movement.

I found I could use this kind of approach on literally any project that was bogged down. But when I recommended it to my clients, they couldn’t “just do it.” There is a thinking skill involved — the ability to identify the essence of the project. Over a period of several years, I developed a system for teaching people this skill. That is the key to my Just-in-Time Planning process. When you can identify the essential value you are creating, you can find creative ways to build that value into every step of the process.

I landed an incredibly complicated $400k custom swimming pool design/construction project. It was so enormous, the plans would take months to complete. Everyone else who had been approached to take the job had either quit or vanished. Others advised me to abandon the project.

I turned to JIT planning, or what I think of as the “bare bones” approach, which is just one skill of many I learned in Jean’s Thinking Lab. It saved the job and revealed an important missing step, which I had never expected.

Among other things, I needed to use my “bare bones” method to guide my subcontractors. They were overwhelmed with their pieces of the project, too. I remember seeing their bewildered looks and hearing their skeptical exclamations as they contemplated the job. It was fear in their eyes and in their snorts. It’s funny in hindsight, but that’s because it turned out so well. Once I finished the planning (in about five months), it was easy. We moved rapidly through the construction phase and delivered a gorgeous result to the client.

Jean’s JIT Planning tool is so useful. I use the method in many areas. Hiring, accounting, taxes, directing staff, instructing subcontractors, etc. It helped me identify one of the best methods for business growth. It gave me leadership skills. These days it is totally automatized. That just shows how far I have traveled.

Janine Wilson

Pool Zones, Owner & Designer, The Woodlands, Texas

This is a process you will use for the rest of your life on every important project you undertake. Here is what you will learn:

In Unit 1: Get Your Mind Around the Project, you will learn my “fractal perspective on planning.” You will get fast tools for getting an overview on the most complex of tasks, so you can make strategic decisions about how to proceed.

In Unit 2: Plan to Evolve, you will learn a unique way of visualizing how your project will unfold — from this week to its end, months or years away. You will learn the two key models for breaking a task down to its basics and building it up again to the complete version. You will see how to do this on your own project.

In Unit 3: Manufacture Finishing Points, you will learn the secret to ensuring something useful gets done today, this week, this month, this quarter. You will learn the critical parameters you need to check to make sure your steps, key results, and objectives can be finished.

In Unit 4: Avoid Predictable Problems, you will learn how to do due diligence to ensure you are not setting yourself up for failure. We’ll specifically discuss perfectionism — a huge barrier to finishing.

I use planned evolution to write and draw story drafts that increase in complexity and polish with each successive version. The process allows me to work in such a way that each version feels complete and meaningful. That motivates me to do the next version.

John Scroggins

Graphic Novelist

This class is not for everyone. You should not take this class unless you have a specific project, that you care about, that you want to plan as part of the exercises in this class. You cannot learn this process in a vacuum. You need to see how to use it for yourself, on something of relevance to you.

Here are my standard suggestions for a major task you may need to plan, which are suitable to work on in this class:

  • Plan a major event (kickoff meeting, company retreat, conference, wedding)
  • Coach a particular person to success (train a new hire, get an existing team member to improve performance, get the kids to _____)
  • Organize something (an office procedure, the filing system, the attic)
  • Make a strategic plan (plan profits, plan new product development, make a personal financial plan)
  • Write a major document (proposal, report, requirements document, book)
  • Give a major presentation (to the customer, to your group, to your club)

When you choose a topic for this class:

  • Make sure you pick a specific project to do, not “organize my whole life.”
  • Make it a “doing” project, not a “figuring out” project. (So, don’t make your project something like, “figure out why so-and-so is not performing.”)
  • Choose a project that you are qualified to do, not one that would require significant training.
  • It’s best if it is an actual project on your agenda.


You will be using this project during all the class exercises, so choose something that is interesting and timely to think about. Feel free to email me for advice on choosing or refining your topic before you begin.

I used “Just-in-Time Planning” on a videogame I’m developing. I found that the key concept from the course of breaking the project down to a base layer was critical to making progress. Once I had a complete, if very basic, proof of concept done, I could identify if I wanted to add-on a new feature or add another layer or change direction. Without that complete basic layer, it would have taken far longer to iterate on my feedback.

Ryan Sawatzky

Entrepreneur, Highlands Ranch, CO

I work on a lot of projects without a defined scope or a firm deadline. Just-in-Time Planning allows me to produce meaningful results at regular intervals. In other words, I can plan the work effectively without worrying about how big or small the project ends up becoming. It’s a godsend.

Kyle Kirschling

Management Consultant, New York City

finishing sooner rather than later

Finishing Sooner Rather Than Later

​In my Launch program, most participants indeed achieve a major goal in 8 weeks. How do they do that? In this free Zoom call, I will explain the unique goal-setting and planning process that makes this possible.

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This is a hands on class. During the class we will step through a workbook using a combination of lecture, discussion, group exercises, and individual exercises.

In addition, you will receive a summary sheet with a convenient summary of the process, plus a workbook with details of the process for quick review. You will also have access to soft copies of all of the materials.

After class, you get two months in the Thinking Lab, where you can access:

  • Live virtual classes going deeper on the skills
  • Over 100 hours of additional course material
  • Write-ups on dozens of related thinking tactics
  • One “Thinking Day – a day you can join other Thinking Lab members virtually to work on a high priority project, ask questions of Jean, or just get encouragement to stay on task
  • Unlimited email feedback on work you submit for review during your time in the lab

Why is this class so different? Because it is based on a rational view of productivity.

Productive work is effort devoted to creating values — values that support human life. It is the greatest, most creative use of your time. Logically, it ought to be self-motivating and self-sustaining. But it won’t be if you don’t finish what you start.

Image of man in front of confusingly complex diagramThe value only comes to be if you finish something. The joy of work comes when you complete some objective result. If you don’t have a way to see your own progress, you will lack the emotional fuel to keep going. Work will become a slog.

Nobody ever achieved a truly ambitious goal by slogging through. It can’t be done. When you’re slogging, your mind is starved for values, and you don’t have the creativity you need to solve the challenging problems.

But when you use the Just-in-Time Planning process, you gain the confidence that you can finish any project you care about.

Just-In-Time Planning is a powerful method to add to your intellectual arsenal. As an engineer, I applied its principles to a number of complex work projects prior to my recent retirement. Currently, JIT Planning has enabled me to navigate a complicated relocation to the property I inherited from my dad. My boyfriend and I had just combined our households and then we were faced with moving into a house already filled with my parents’ belongings. Plus it needed some repairs. Using JIT I could envision a prototype version of our moving project that was less daunting to execute. I needed to figure out which repairs at my parents’ house were critical to our moving in and which could wait? Or at a minimum, which rooms needed to be cleared in advance? After answering these questions and taking action, we are now living here happily and comfortably.

We still have a lot of work to do, but seeing results is so motivating. Plus, JIT planning helped ensure that our in-between state is a great state. We prioritized enjoying being here. Over breakfast, we watch deer feeding in the backyard. In the evenings, we walk to the pond and feed the catfish, then watch the bats circling overhead. The cats are all settled into their new routine. We are also exercising and eating well. It was very important to me to make sure these didn’t fall by the wayside in our new circumstances—and so as part of JIT Planning, we built that into the move sooner rather than later. 

Amy Deese

Retired Engineer

Image of wooden blocks representing phasesSo how does it work? The bottom line is: Focus on the basics.

The basics are not “small steps” or “what’s easy.” Yes, the basics need to be simple and easy, but they are also fundamental. They are “that upon which everything else depends in the context.” How do you find those fundamentals? That is a thinking process.

First, only you can figure out what is fundamental in this context. You know the goal. You know the value of achieving it. That is the context you need to strip the goal down to its essentials. But identifying the essential value of a project requires critical thinking that nobody teaches you.

Second, only you know the exact state of your own knowledge. How many times have you been given an allegedly step-by-step process, only to discover you have no idea how to take one of the steps? You need to figure out a plan to complete your project that factors in what you know and what you don’t know — without turning research into an end in itself.

I used Jean’s JIT Planning course to structure a consulting project in which I was tasked with scaling a core business process for a rapidly growing company. My available time for the project was potentially very limited, and I needed to ensure that I would be able to finish the project no matter what obstacles came up. After listening to the course, I was able to find a way to break my project into small chunks that could each be done in a few hours, but where I actually had a finished product at the end of every step. That was key to de-risking the overall project, and also to building confidence for myself and others that the project was on track. The project was successful, and in fact the system I developed is still being used by the company, many years later.

Rachel Knapp

Accountant, Blacksburg, VA

I use JIT Planning with product development. It helps me identify the essential parts of a project, so I focus on building those instead of getting caught up in details or aspects that aren’t as important. In the past I would get excited about a complicated idea, but now I’m learning to find the core of it—which is usually still really exciting—and turn that into something I can do much more quickly. Using this approach, our company published our first children’s book! I really appreciate having this course to work with.

Heather Schwarz

Co-Founder, Knowable World

Let’s sum up what you get for your investment:

  • A planning process that makes the most complex projects tractable
  • Powerful tools for finding a place to start that ensure you don’t bog down
  • The secret to resolving time and quality conflicts, including perfectionism
  • The key to making objective progress you can show yourself — and your boss — without driving yourself crazy
  • A chance to work through the process on a project of your own during the workshop
  • Surprising insights about what you really want to achieve with your project
  • My Thinking Tactics manual: The Thinker’s Toolkit
  • A 2-page summary sheet for quick reference
  • Complimentary membership in the Thinking Lab from the time you register to three months after the class so you can get more tactics, more practice, and more help

Still unsure? Here’s my money-back guarantee:
If you have not already discovered one way you can be significantly more effective by the end of the first unit, you can walk out then with a 100% refund. So what are you waiting for?

One goal of this class is intangible: That you gain the conviction that you can make progress on your most ambitious goals. Instead of seeing the difficulties, the obstacles, the barriers — you see the possibilities, and that they are within your power. You see them, not because you are chanting an affirmation to yourself. Not because soImage of team joining hands in triumph on a mountain peakme abstract theory says it’s possible. But because you see your way forward, and that it will pay off — at least to some degree — sooner rather than later.

This is a radically empowering perspective. When you gain the conviction you can get results, you see your own power to create your future.

I’m not saying that everyone taking the class will gain that confidence in just 7 hours. But in the class, you will see that it is possible, and lay the foundation to gain it over time.

The Just-in-Time Planning process involves a new thinking skill — an ability to identify the fundamental value of a project. It’s not enough to just grasp the overall concept. And to transform the way you work requires automatizing this new idea.

That’s why I always include time in the Thinking Lab after the class — so that you have support to further learn, practice, and automatize this approach. In particular, there are half a dozen recorded classes available, in which we work through a wide variety of cases using the Just-in-Time Planning process.

Sign up now and learn how to plan your complex, long-term projects so that you always succeed.

Jean’s Just-in-Time Planning course has been helpful in both my personal and professional life. I am a real estate appraiser and use the idea of “Planned Evolution” in writing all of my reports. It helps to make daily progress and keep momentum on the project while avoiding any overwhelm. Another favorite tactic from the class is the “pre-mortem.” Looking at potential problems and ways to prevent them is high leverage activity. I recommend the Just-in-Time planning course for those who want to better manage their projects—large or small. 

Jason Letman

Real Estate Appraiser, Greenwood Village, CO

I have found Just-In-Time Planning to be very helpful. Before I took the JIT planning class, I would get bogged down preparing my research papers. I would start each section by reading research articles that I thought were relevant, only to find out later that I didn’t need to read them at all! JIT planning gave me strategies for planning the project at a much higher level, so I could avoid getting stifled by unnecessary details. It also helped me to bolster my positive motivation and handle any negative motivation. I recommend the course to anyone undertaking a complex project.

Susan Harbison

Geneticist, Rockville, MD

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