from a graduate planner in private consultancy
In the mid 1970s I wrote a report about eight pages long on a proposed shopping centre, outlining rezonings and approvals needed and other site issues. One issue was that two landowners along a road that cut into the shopping centre were refusing to sell their homes. My report flagged that if those two properties were purchased, the road would need to be closed, rezoned and approvals obtained.
Eighteen months later I was called into the boardroom in a tone that intimated trouble. A director and two lawyers were present. I was asked if I remembered the report on the site and if I remembered the road with the houses. I said, ‘Yes’, and opened the report and showed them where I had clearly addressed the aspects of road closure, rezoning and approvals. The atmosphere in the room immediately eased. Later the director told me that having those details in my report saved my job and saved the company at least $2 million, but that they should have been in the conclusion of my report.
The lesson for me was that a planning report needs to address all relevant details and its conclusion needs to include all the issues. This incident also showed me that neither my director nor any of the lawyers on either side had bothered to read the whole report—of only eight pages! I found this worrying when there was such an amount at stake.
My advice from this experience is to make sure your reports are complete and that all relevant issues are restated in the conclusion. Never let anyone tell you not to address issues that you believe are relevant. It is your job at stake, which is more important than what someone else may think the client might want to hear.