In a previous blog on the value of planning, we shared warnings from the wise on using planning to avoid future risks to your business. Planning is much more than just avoiding danger. Plans should help you grow your business, taking advantage of opportunities, making day to day decisions easier (because the plan has already clarified priorities and direction), and keeping you on track to achieve the results you want to see.
Here are some of our favourite quotes about planning proactively.
“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.” Abraham Lincoln
The first step in planning is determining where you are right now. In energy planning we call this a “baseline”. Understanding this enables you to set goals for where you want to be, and prioritize the steps you must take to get there.
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” Alan Lakein
This can also be phrased as the more commonly heard “if you don’t know where you’re going, any path will take you there.” Having clear goals will guide plan development, and motivate people to implement it.
“A plan is a list of actions arranged in whatever sequence is thought likely to achieve an objective.” John Argenti
A plan is more than just a desired end-point. It is the roadmap to making that future a reality through both thought and action. A good plan identifies key milestones between now and your desired targets, and helps you measure progress along to way to ensure you stay on track. The roadmap needs to be reviewed periodically to adapt for evolving changes in the landscape, and to ensure the team isn’t getting lost.
“Reduce your plan to writing. The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to the intangible desire.” Napoleon Hill
Putting a plan into writing solidifies your commitment to reaching your goal, makes the progress milestones clear, and helps you communicate the plan to others. The written plan and any subsequent updates act as physical reminders of where you were, what you had accomplished and what still needs to be done.
“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” George S. Patton
A good plan will be a living document which can be updated, modified and improved through the implementation process. Waiting until you have the perfect plan leaves you exactly where you were to begin with, wasting time and opportunity, and potentially preventing you from reaching your goals.