Fail to plan-Plan to fail: The real reason to plan

My two most recent posts have spoken more to leadership and today’s post is just an extension of these two.  The first talks about the importance of a firm foundation as a leader and the second discusses some of the key attributes or principles of leadership.  Today I will discuss more of what comes after the principle part of leadership.  After you have decided what the core principles will be it will then be time to set a course and move ahead.

Some of my favorite quotes of all time discuss planning.  Here are a few of them:

  • Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.
    Thomas A. Edison


  • In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
    Dwight D. Eisenhower


  • Adventure is just bad planning.
    Roald Amundsen

Planning without principles is sort of like taking a trip.  The problem with this is that when you start thinking about the trip there are many options to consider.  You need to know the budget, who will be making the trip, where you are going and what options you have to get there.  You also need to consider what the time frame is to arrive.  Without the boundaries that principles give in leadership, or in planning, you could go anywhere you wish, spend whatever you want, arrive whenever you wish and take whomever you choose.  On one hand that sounds a little like how government is run (only kidding, sort of), but this lack of planning happens every day and in many ways.

Eisenhower says it best in my view.  Sitting down to plan is essential, but you also need to realize that the plans you make are not the Gospel and contingencies need to be available.  Only by doing this kind of front-end thinking and strategizing will you be prepared when the obvious shift in course comes about.  Ike experienced this first hand with the D-Day invasion.  His first plan was to invade on June 4, but the weather did not allow this to occur.  The last possible date was June 6 and that became the backup plan.  Ike also considered the final contingency, the fact that the invasion might not be successful.  He covered this too by crafting the famous acceptance letter for the failure of the invasion.  Fortunately for the free world the invasion was a success and that contingency didn’t need to be used.

There are times, especially in the innovation and creative world, where the Amundsen way of thinking needs to take precedence.  Too often we have our lives and our work too planned out.  This “overly structured” world hampers creativity, adventure and innovation.  Working around the creative class, the entrepreneurial world, I see the spirit of adventure taking root every day, but my overly structured ways make it hard for me to fully adopt the adventure way of thinking.  It is hard for me to even head out of town without a hotel reservation.  Not making a reservation once would be a good “baby step” for me in the creative world.

Leaders have principles that direct their choices.  These principles determine the foundation of all decisions that are made and the principles also drive the plans, or lack of such plans, in both their daily personal and professional life.

Take the time to examine the principles that guide your decisions and plans.  Are they the right principles?  Are they taking you in a direction that defines success for you in your life?

If they are, keep it up.

If they are not, take time to reflect and consider what needs to change.

Do you need a little remodeling or do you need to raze the structure and start over.

We will talk more next time about leadership remodeling and leadership razing.

In the meantime, have a great Memorial Day weekend.

Never forget the sacrifice so many have made for our freedom.

Freedom is never free!