Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Plans Cannot Predict the Future, but Planning Can Prepare You for It

Rob Millard, founder and partner of Venturis Consulting Group, once wrote, “All too often, I find myself facing blank stares from clients who want me to help them craft a plan that will lead them to greatness. This is only possible where the future is certain. Which, of course, it is not.”

The point is that strategic plans are based on assumptions about the future, and those predictions are too inaccurate to reliably steer an organization. Thus, if you unwaveringly pursue a plan based on those inaccurate assumptions, you will eventually implement the wrong strategy—you will “successfully fail.”
Now wait just a minute! We know that planning is one of the five things that distinguish successful organizations from the “also-ran” and the unsuccessful. Now you are telling me that following that plan will lead to successfully failing?
You got it. The “plan” must be to change the “plan”! Plans provide an essential fixed point for reacting to future events—for revising your assumptions, tactics, and strategies as the future becomes clearer. You can’t accurately predict the future, but by revising your predictions and your plans, you prepare your organization for it. Make sense?

The inaccurate character of assumptions is why planning must be a continuous
process. Through that continuous process of changing the plan as the future unfolds, successful organizations achieve that success by doing the “right things.” It is because of the continuous nature of the planning process that I emphasize that the tangible product of strategic planning, “the plan” should consist of words, phrases, and sentences, not paragraphs, pages, and chapters. It is the “play book,” that coordinates and shapes an organization’s actions and decisions, and that is changed by those actions and decisions on the front line in reaction to an unfolding future. Taking a line from the Pirates of the Caribbean about the Pirate’s Code, “It is more of a guide than an actual code.”

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“In this exciting age of fast-paced growth and innovative communication technology, Tom Collins has managed to incorporate timeless principles with modern advancements to achieve results-driven success in today’s business world. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't be enlightened by its contents.”—Jack Grant, Business Management Consultant

Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes& Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

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