PLANNING IS FANTASTIC, but it has one big problem:

Reality gets in the way.

You go to all this work to create the fully robust plan, to get everyone on board, even to test various scenarios. It’s wonderful! But the plan was put in a binder on the shelf, never to be opened again.

Why is that?

It’s simple, really:

  • People are operating according to plan, mostly, but there’s no need to reference the document because we all have it pretty well internalized.
  • And reality happened, so we can’t actually follow the plan according to the letter anyway. We have to – gasp! – use our good judgment.

If this is your situation, they I’d say you’re in excellent shape. You went through the deep thinking, and it formed the basis for how your people are behaving.

But what if you never actually produced that magnificent plan in the first place? It’s a whole lot of work, and it’s going to be obsolete before it’s finished.

I’m pretty OK with that too, as long as you did two things:

  • You thought through the current and future environment. Customers, industry, regulation, employees, and all that.
  • You learned and applied that to what you’re doing, so that the company’s efforts are more aligned and valuable.

For many leading companies, this doesn’t look like an extensive plan. It might be an exercise you go through with your team every week or month. It could be a discussion board where everyone understands that “it’s the place we all go to” for consistent direction.

I do encourage you to write it down, though, and not just have it be the random thoughts knocking around in your head. The act of writing itself forces you to pick the best words to represent what you’re thinking, and is a wonderful help to stabilize and communicate it.

If it will change in a month, so be it. But it better be based on what you’ve learned and applied, not just because you like chasing squirrels.