A Man Without a Plan…

4th April 2014

…is a Dangerous man, or so the saying goes. Or is he/she? I would say that whilst Plans are a necessity – Strategy > Plan > Budget, a rigid plan, one that is strictly adhered to – come what may – is as, if not more dangerous than the man without one.

Circumstances and Contexts change so fast now that what seemed appropriate six months ago could be a totally inappropriate course of action tomorrow or for the next six months.

I recently listened to the new Headmistress at my daughters school give her maiden speech. “We realised that the pace of change is so great that it is not possible to plan far ahead” said, and then later “This morning, as I was adding to the ten year plan…” I don’t know what she said next; I left.

So what to do if not to be a Dangerous Person? Well we must still plan but not against fixed timelines. Why have a three year plan? What is the purpose of three years? Time is an illusion, a made up concept.

Plan against Objectives, not a year end and lets make sure that we constantly review our Strategy, Plans and Budgets. Who says they can’t change, they should change. If they are not constantly reviewed, updated, torn up and started again, then just stick them in a drawer and forget about them, that’s what many people do anyway. Why plan against a timeframe that doesn’t matter? Why not plan against Milestones that do, or are achievable with a given timeframe?

Strategies and Plans need to be a living, dynamic and highly connected part of the DNA of any enterprise and need to be co-created and then visible throughout the organisation, The most effective way of achieving this I have found is working with John Caswell and his Structured Visual Thinking Techniques, I am proud to have worked with John for over twenty five years and in that time we have seen some amazing strategies come to life and twist and turn their ways to success for some of the worlds most successful (and challenging) enterprises.

So sure, make a Plan, make it a plan that will achieve your Objectives and get you and your enterprises to where you want to be as quickly as possible. Review it frequently and be looking for the Roadblocks and changes ahead. Be prepared to change the Strategy, the Plan and of course the budget and make sure you do that with your team.

Now where is your five year plan? In the filing cabinet – safely stored somewhere on the company intranet?