Do you plan naturally…?

 There are a lot of good quotes out there about planning.  I was thinking about some next steps for my business and thought I’d do a quick search for quotes to get inspired.  Here are few that caught my eye:

“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”

Proverb Quote

I’m sure I’ve seen this one or one like it attributed to a real person, but it certainly sums up one of the key risks that hit most planning activities…overplanning! 

How many times have you hesitated to move forward because you didn’t have everything ‘just so’?  Ultimately, assuming you really want to do something, you have to bite the bullet and just go for it  – to pile another cliche on, “There’s no time like the present!”

“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”

Thomas Alva Edison

I really like this quote from Edison for a lot of reasons.  I like the idea that luck favors those that help themselves.  I like the idea that in order to recognize good fortune you must be open to opportunity.  I especially like the fact that the most famous inventor of our time, who I greatly admire, was the author and used this approach to his great success.

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Although I found lots of other great planning quotes, I think this one very succinctly and directly sums up my overall opinion on planning.  Having had the opportunity to work in more than one strategic planning organization, I can tell you that this sentiment unfortunately isn’t embraced by everyone.

The actual output of the planning process is nice and should be used to get things moving, but if you don’t realize that the rest of the world isn’t going to follow your plan, you are soon going to be in big trouble.  However the act of planning, the thought process and the preparation are priceless.

In the same spirit of research, I looked up the chapter in Getting Getting Things DoneThings Done about Natural Planning (Great book by the way!).  In the chapter, Natural Planning is contrasted with unnatural planning – which is what most corporate business environments foster.  Unnatural planning or reactive planning starts with reacting to a situation and jumping straight to action (throw more people at it).  Ultimately it’s the reverse of what you should be doing.

Natural Planning contains the following 5 Steps:

  1. Defining Purpose and Principles
  2. Outcome Visioning
  3. Brainstorming
  4. Organizing
  5. Identifying Next Actions

It seems overly simplistic, but that’s actually the beauty of it.  These are the steps you consciously or unconsciously use in your day to day activities.  Why wouldn’t you use the same steps in a more formal planning process.

Here are a few key thoughts that I find really valuable in this approach to planning:

Purpose:  What is the purpose you’re trying to achieve, or in other words…why?  You might be putting together a plan to build your business, but why do you want to build your business?  Is it because you have a driving need to be in charge of a big operation?  Is it because you believe growth is the only way for you to free up your time to do what you really want to do?  You might end up with very different plans given those different purposes.

You have to know and be able to articulate why you want to do something (your purpose) if you’re going to achieve it.

Vision:  Studies have been done with world class athletes that had them clearly visualize the outcome they wanted to achieve.  One example was the basketball player imagining all of the details of a successful free throw, the placement of the feet, the feel of the ball, the motion towards the basket, the follow-through in the wrist and the sound of the ball through the net.  The outcome was a substantial, measurable improvement using only the the vision exercise without any other practice.

The best way to succeed is to see yourself doing all the things you need to do to succeed…and then see yourself succeeding.

Action:  As noted above, a plan without action is useless.  You must identify the first steps you can take to get the plan moving.  Even if it’s only something small,

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” 

Lao Tzu

What deep thoughts or quotes really inspire you when it comes to planning?  I’d love to hear some other ideas.

Shawn Kinkade