…because some thoughts are worth remembering
Plans get a bad rep, often by people who aren’t experienced in planning. “I want to be organic about this project” I often hear. It’s not clear what they mean by it exactly, or if they know what they mean. From context, I have approximated their definition to be “without meticulous planning”.
Plans are misunderstood. There’s a difference between bad plan and a good plan. There’s also a difference between having a bad plan and no plan, not to mention how good or bad plans are followed, rigidly to the letter or reinterpreting and reassessing it as new factors come into play. The thing is, when good plans are executed well, it should look and fell organic.
Therefore, not having a plan so you can be more “creative” and “organic” is rolling the dice. It is irresponsible for leaders to put your team’s efforts and resources at (unnecessary) risk.
What we all need is a robust plan.
Robust is a term I most associate with IT and telecommunication. A robust telecommunication protocol is one that has the most success of connectivity (and maintaining that connectivity) even when various factors fall outside of ideal levels. I think of anything being robust if it delivers a consistent or reliable results even in the face of unexpected/unplanned changes or events.
A successful entrepreneur turned angel investor addressed a roomful of startup stakeholders that NOT having a robust plan is one of the largest mistakes entrepreneurs make. They sketch out a scenario where “if this happens, then that follows, which can get us more sales people. I need 3 good ones to make the target numbers to get to revenue positive, then…” But when was the last time we lucked out and hired 3 sales people, all of whom were good? Plans like these rely on luck and the best environment for your success. That’s not why you need a plan. You need a plan so when things go wrong, you still get to the finishing line.
It might mean budgeting more time, more money. It’s a plan. It’s ok. You then go to people smarter than you, more experienced than you, to figure out what can be streamlined without losing the robustness of the plan.
My rule of thumb: when I get asked a quick question for options within a plan, I tend to choose the option that results in the plan being more robust, which usually means less is more, simpler the better. It seems to work equally well for wedding party planning, personal career plans, and what restaurant to pick for dinner.
Photo: Intriguing geometric forms used in architecture in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where 2/3 of the country is vulnerable to flooding due to their altitude.