Value Planning
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Value Planning

Practical Tools for Clearer Management Communication

About the Book

Value Planning (VP) means you will elicit and clarify critical stakeholder values quantitatively, and prioritize delivering those values, as soon as possible.

Key Planning Concepts

  1. STAKEHOLDERS: Identify your most critical stakeholders.
  2. OBJECTIVES: Identify the smart levels of their most critical value improvements.
  3. STRATEGIES: Identify potential strategies for delivering planned value levels to stakeholders, at lowest cost and risk.
  4. SMALL STEPS: Decompose strategies into suitably smaller deliverable increments.
  5. DELIVER VALUE: Attempt to deliver measurable value to some stakeholders.
  6. LEARN: Measure results and costs; then decide if you are on track, or need to change something. Continue the process until all goals reached.

more detail

  1. We will make use of our Planning Language,  called ‘Planguage’ (‘PL’).
  2. The central capability of Planguage is that it can be used for any system of ‘product’ or ‘service’, at any level of abstraction or detail.
  3. Planguage is capable of expressing all results, improvements, values and qualities quantitatively.
  4. Planguage can help you plan, estimate and track delivery of all costs and resources.
  5. Planguage will help you keep numeric accounts of multiple critical values, and corresponding multiple critical resources, so you can manage value for money; i.e. the efficiency of planning, decision-making and contracted result deliveries.
  6. Planguage is extremely risk conscious at the level of every aspect of planning that might involve risk to your successful value delivery.
  7. Planguage not only helps with planning values and costs, but is consequently used to manage practical implementation, learning and feedback from plan application.
  8. Planguage will help you align and connect plans at many related levels of consideration, from top management to the most detailed level of planning you need.
  9. Planguage enables you to measure the quality of planning, and to set a release threshold for plans.
  10. Planguage has tools to automate plan specification, and to integrate your updated decisions and knowledge.

About the Author

Tom Gilb
Tom Gilb

Tom Gilb has been consulting on management problems, for top management since 1962.  As a result he has developed and refined his own powerful methods for management planning. He has worked for many of these years with his son Kai Gilb. 

These methods are jointly called ‘Planguage’ – a Planning Language. They are unique in helping managers to think quantitatively about the qualitative aspects of their decisions. For example how to quantify ‘engineering productivity’, or general product quality?

Most of the consultancy work is done at the CTO level. Most of it is for technical multinationals, and some financial groups. Most of the work is for planning organizational improvement in productivity and quality (for 10,000 engineers for example). The rest is about big projects (like 1,000 engineers, $100 million).

Tom does not profile himself as a management consultant. In fact he  works at the grass roots of advanced engineering, systems, software, aircraft, IT, telecoms, electronics. 

This often leads to meeting top managers who appreciate his methods, and become clients. There is a well-documented successful spread of his methods at HP, IBM (CMM 4) and Intel (20,000 engineers trained there in his methods). Other interesting famous method-user organizations are Boeing, Citigroup, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Philips,  Ericsson, Nokia, Tata Consultancy, Microsoft, Equinor and many others, smaller and less famous.

In June 2024 Nicholas Coutts at GilbFest #25 told us of over 220 startup projects with 3 year success rate of 83% using Toms Planguage (Competitive Engineering) ideas, as a clear causal contributor. See "Some examples of technology for good” This made me prouder than all the big corporations we helped! I worked with him directly on some of these startups.

Tom has been invited to lecture at dozens of  universities worldwide (including Berkeley, Stanford, London School of Economics, Imperial College). 

He has previously published nine paper books. The 2005 book is ‘Competitive Engineering’.  

He has spent 2 years  (2014-2015) working on his new book ‘Value Planning’, especially for top managers. Published initially on LeanPub 2016.

In 2018-2024 He produced about 35+ books digitally.About 5 annually. Most at Leanpub, or or (with quite a few papers, slides, experiments, older book chapters etc.). It is his way of leaving good technical ideas behind, for when professionals grow to need and appreciate them even better!

In 2020, long course-length videos were made by Oslo Software Architecture (OSWA), based on the SEA Systems Enterprise Architecture book,

And many long videos about the books were made by BCS SPA SG such as for the Sustainability Planning book.


BCS made: Value Requirements video 22 April 2020, 3 hours

and many other of my book videos are below this one on that site.

In 2012 he was made Honorary Fellow of the British Computer Society. 

More information, and many publications, at A 'Tom Gilb' search will tell about things not mentioned here.

He lives in Norway, near Oslo, in Summer Fjordside at the cabin, and is both Norwegian (as of December 2015) and US Citizen (1940).

In 2024, he is 83. He is 'commercially retired', avoids travel, but quite active in spreading his ideas, mentoring disciples, learning what is going on.

Not very impressed with the level of methods for IT/Agile gang. They are nowhere near seriously doing software and systems engineering. Far too many top managers and professors who still cannot quantify critical values and qualities. Responsibility and motivation for serious success and quality seems totally lacking. Sad, the 'war against ourselves'.

Table of Contents

The One-Page ‘Value Planning’ Book.2

Introduction to the Book Structure and Intent.4

Part 1. Our ‘Vision Engineering’ Objectives.22

Part 2.  Quality Control of Objectives40

Part 3.  Strategies.53

Part 4. Quality Control of Strategies64

Part 5. Evolutionary Deployment of Strategies72

Value Planning Appendix: Chapters 1 to 1078

Chapter 1. Objectives.79

Section 1.1 Quantification of All Critical Performance Objectives, Especially Qualities..80

Section 1.2: On Limiting Your Project to 10 Critical Objectives, Initially.  91

Section 1.3  Clearly connecting the level of responsibility with objectives.101

1.4 Making the degree of supporting planning for your objectives visible106

Section 1.5  Alignment. Every plan, including your own,  has to be clear about what other objectives it is supporting. The 12 Tough Questions tool. The 13th Question the ‘Record’ statement.109

Section 1.7  Some Objectives are ‘Compound’: they consist of a ‘set’ of scalar variables.123

Section 1.8  Object-Oriented Planning: Extracting Presentations from the Plan database130

Section 1.9 Multidimensional Targets: ‘decomposition’ and ‘prioritization’ tools using ‘qualifiers’. Down-sizing plans for experiments and short high-value delivery cycles.138

Section 1.10  Benchmarks: warning signals for planners.149

Chapter 2. Strategies.154

Section 2.1  How to know if a strategy will really work156

Section 2.2  Why we have to worry about strategy side-effects, and how to worry. Responsibility for the whole effect picture.165

Section 2.3 Looking at Multiple Impacts of A Strategy; And doing so ‘after the battle has begun’: Dynamic strategy selection.180

Section 2.4.  Evaluating the multiple cost aspects of strategies, in relation to project resource budgets. The simple 0 to 9 method.190

Section 2.5   Strategy choice depends on residual resources. Dynamic Design to Cost.197

Section 2.6 You cannot use a strategy that violates serious constraints.204

Section 2.7. Divide big ideas into much smaller value-delivery increments.207

Section 2.8  Delivering A Stream of Value Improvements to your ‘bad old system’, is likely to be more successful than building a big new system.214

Section 2.9    Strategy Risks: what can go wrong with those great ideas?218

Section 2.10  Ends and Means distinction.226

Chapter 3. Levels of Interest and Levels of Control.233

Section 3.1 The Plan Relationships: your links to others.234

Section 3.2  ‘Who’ decides , or ‘how’ do we decide, on which strategies to use?240

Section 3.3  Focus on Improvements.245

Section 3.4  Aligning Levels of Responsibility Numerically for Values and Costs.252

Section 3.5 How many strategies do you need to reach your objectives?261

Section 3.7   The problem of your Stakeholders’ unclear communication about their objectives.272

Section 3.8  Getting 100 times clearer objectives.279

Section 3.9 Dealing with your many stakeholders288

Section 3.10    It is not just about primary stakeholders, we need to include stakeholders with less power, but valid needs.291

Chapter 4. Value Delivery.294

Section 4.1 Value is Subjective.295

Section 4.2  Tailoring Value Planning for Better alignment  with the Stakeholder and Strategy Environment.301

Section 4.3     Conflicts of Interest.308

Section  4.4  Estimations of Strategy Impact: Uncertainty.313

Section 4.5.   Dynamic Strategy Planning, to Fit Costs.319

Section 4.6 When the map differs from the terrain, believe the terrain.333

Section 4.7      Focusing on real value-for-investment has rewards.340

Section 4.8.   How to protect the long-term values.344

Section 4.9   Values conflict with each other because of the ‘common purse’.351

Section 4.10 The Never-Ending Quest for Value Improvement358

Chapter 5. Decomposition  (by value, by responsibility)363

Section 5.1 Strategy decomposition for early value delivery.365

Section 5.2  Decomposing strategies into independent implementations.370

Section 5.3 The Impact Estimation Table as a value decomposition tool.377

Section 5.4 The ‘Scale’ parameters as a tool for decomposition of strategies382

Section 5.5  The value of the ‘bad old system’ as a starting point.385

Section 5.6  Specific tactics to enable you to decompose strategies391

Section 5.7  A simple checklist for practical strategy decomposition.395

Section 5.8 The ‘Project Startup Week’ Process.399

Section 5.9  Value delivery steps are also a ‘hypothesis’ we need to verify.406

Section 5.10 Proving you can really deliver value: one step at a time.411

Chapter 6. Prioritization, Evaluation 416

Section 6.1   A Better Way to Prioritize, and make decisions.417

Section 6.2 Priority is dependent on many changing factors424

Section 6.3  Articulate your priority policy, and adapt it.430

Section 6.4 Quantify All Your Critical Objectives AS A BASIS FOR DECISION MAKING.435

Section 6.5 Value Management Information for Prioritization.440

Section 6.6 How to Prioritize in Both Long and Short Term450

Section 6.7 Using the IE Table for Measurement and Feedback: The Meter.454

Section 6.8 Our Priority Decisions Can be Computed461

Section 6.9 The Five Levels of Priority469

Section 6.10 Accepting a stakeholder Wish as a committed Goal.474

Chapter 7. Risk Management478

Section 7.1 Risk Management is universal and continuous.480

Section 7.2 Reducing Risk486

Section 7.3 Continuous learning, improving and grass roots power to change.491

Section 7.4 Navigating projects over troubled waters500

Section 7.5 Asking powerful questions about risk.509

Section 7.6 The holistic systems view of risk planning.518

Section 7.7 Spec Quality Control to Reduce Specification Defect Threats: ‘very upstream’ risk management524

Section 7.8 Fighting the root causes of risks is good economics.532

Section 7.9 The value of overwhelming value540

Section 7.10 Focussing on overall value progress.547

Chapter 8. Delegation, Outsourcing, Contracting554

Section 8.1 Delegating Decisions555

Section 8.2 Supporting People who you delegate decisions to.562

Section 8.3 Smart ‘Value Contracting’.569

Section 8.4 Managing by Results573

Section 8.5 Removing barriers to delivering value580

Section 8.6 Getting early short-term feedback.586

Section 8.7 Crediting ideas and motivating responsibility.593

Section 8.8 Delegation of planning activity and responsibility.600

Section 8.9 Managing Stakeholder Awareness606

Section 8.10 Making sure you get ‘value for money’612

Chapter 9. Communication620

Section 9.1 Written Communication622

Section 9.2 Capturing Background Information in your Plan629

Section 9.3 Traceability: Document Relationships636

Section 9.4 Manage the Degree of Value Improvement 643

Section 9.5 I’m from Missouri, you gotta show me! 653

Section 9.6 Dealing with the range of uncertainty pessimistically.663

Section 9.7  Connecting Stakeholder Levels673

Section 9.8 The incremental value delivery of a series of strategies; stepwise learning.678

Section 9.9 How to play safe, with a Safety Factor.686

Section 9.10 The ‘Project Startup Week’: Necessary Minimum Planning, then into battle.695

Chapter 10. Quality Management.709

Section 10.1 Defining which qualities any plan should have; the ‘rule of rules’.711

Section 10.2 Spec QC: Measure how bad your planning communication quality is.718

Section 10.3. Prevent Planning Viruses Going Downstream Contagiously 728

Section 10.5  Simple Quantified Plan Quality- Control Process: ‘Spec QC’.745

Section 10.6: ‘Quality’ and other related fundamental concepts. 753

Section 10.7 Enriching the planning specification of quality values.770

Section 10.8 The attributes of a planning language.782

Section 10.9  WHAT PROFESSORS SHOULD REALLY TEACH:  Lasting Wisdom.791

 Section 10.10  WHAT PROFESSORS SHOULD REALLY TEACH:  Clear, deep, useful sets of professional concepts.799

Literature References:814

URL Download References820

Fx Footnotes846

Causes Supported

Oxfam America

Right the Wrong

Oxfam America is a global organization working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice. We save lives, develop long-term solutions to poverty, and campaign for social change. As one of 17 members of the international Oxfam confederation, we work with people in more than 90 countries to create lasting solutions.

Oxfam America is a global organization working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice. We save lives, develop long-term solutions to poverty, and campaign for social change. As one of 17 members of the international Oxfam confederation, we work with people in more than 90 countries to create lasting solutions. Our vision: A just world without poverty. Our mission: To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice.

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