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The Green is in the Grey; or, Pelaksanaan

Pelaksanaan – Indonesian – the process, method or action of doing something. Implementation. Execution. “Carrying out.”

“The green is in the grey” (hat tip JR) means that the money in a given project is earned by actually making things work on the ground (in the concrete – “the grey”).

The hard part of installing a security system, for example, isn’t usually the planning and design phase: it’s usually in physical installation and actually making the system work as needed in the messy reality of someone’s building.

Anyone can order an off-the-shelf system. What is scarce Рwhat people will pay for Рis the ability to consistently make systems work in context, on time and on budget.

Why is pelaksanaan hard?

Because every project is different, and full of potential complications that are difficult to foresee (except for the fact that they will occur) ahead of time. See example below.

How do you get better at pelaksanaan?

1. By doing similar projects repeatedly, and often enough that you learn to quickly identify the routine problems that will make up ~80% of the problems you face… and to become expert in using the relatively small set of tools and techniques that will enable you to solve them. It will help to develop a vocabulary for them with your team.

2. By learning to accurately estimate how often you’ll encounter the remaining 20% of problems, and allowing enough slack in your all of your budgets to cover the additional time, equipment, materials or outside help that you’ll need to cover these special cases when they arise.

Pelaksanaan: Worked Example


Make a simple climbing wall in youngest child’s bedroom as birthday present.


  • Climbing wall holds (presented on birthday, last July)
  • 10 mm bolts
  • Threaded receivers for mounting holds in plywood


  1. Research climbing wall design. 
  2. Research cost of plywood board.
  3. Measure wall area and design hold layout.
  4. Take several months to move oldest son into different room so that bunk-bed can be sold, room emptied and old paint stripped.
  5. Decide that damp problem makes plywood a bad idea – research alternative methods of installation.
  6. Repaint wall with waterproof undercoat and overcoat.
  7. Buy threaded steel drop-anchors.
  8. Drill test hole, insert drop-anchor and successfully install one climbing hold.
  9. Drill remaining holes in anticipation of easy victory.
  10. Fail to install the next three holds due to under-expanding or over-expanding drop-anchors – meaning that the anchors don’t bite and spin in their holes when the bolt is tightened.
  11. Install a couple more holds successfully using paper and wood to give better traction.
  12. Fail to install any more holds, damaging several threaded receivers and bolts in the process.
  13. Realise that the drop-anchors aren’t gripping because the wall isn’t all recent concrete, but partly consists of old, soft, damp brick with a concrete skim.
  14. Research chemset epoxy resin for fixing the drop-anchors and discover how expensive it is.
  15. Conduct trials using (cheaper) quick-setting steel-filled epoxy. Succeed, making only a bit of a mess of the wall.
  16. Fail in next two trials. Spend a lot of time drilling / hammering / pulling epoxy and metal out of the wall.
  17. Succeed in next trial, including masking well to keep things clean.
  18. Successfully install remaining handholds, mixing epoxy for two holds at a time.
  19. Use additional screw to secure one or two handholds that still insist on spinning.
  20. Project complete 9 months after birthday. Child happy.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...