The Plan Is To Plan

Two words. That's all it takes in business for the inert to become action.


It's a short shift from a noun to a verb.


Most organisations have a plan (a noun). Few of those are fully understood, embraced and implemented. The real learning, progress, fun and achievements are derived from the investment in and the commitment to plan (a verb).


Former Untied States of America President and World War II military strategist, General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said:

  “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.”




One notable deficiency of an overwhelming majority of business plans is the lack of a goal to regularly plan. Accordingly, most planning documents are frozen in a given point in time, most often in the past. Few are regularly updated and refined. The dynamics of economies and marketplace quickly ensure that such become obsolete and irrelevant.


It seems mad not to commit to and schedule regular planning sessions.


Dr Roger Smith, Professorial Fellow at the University of Western Australia in his publication “Management Allsorts”, quoted the theorist Nietzsche, who declared:

  “Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups.”


A cause of much frustration and the measure of madness within organisations is the oft stated comment by participants at the conclusion of planning sessions..... “Good, that's over. Let's get back to work.”


Wrong! Effective planning is the essence of productive work and development. The activity provides, or should provide a framework to question, review, refine, update and replace established philosophies, practices and ultimately, outputs.




Good planning is challenging and often confronting. It should be a fun experience and is fundamental to integrating efforts, securing commitments from team members, fostering pride and informing those in the entire network.


Accordingly, planning and its consequences should not be limited to a select few. The content of the planning process must not become privileged or an instrument utilised in the exercise of power.


Consistently, the best performing entities are those that have open channels of communication which share information and invite feedback, input and analyses from the full spectrum of departments, locations and people.


Highly structured organisations, with structures which impede information flow and exchange inevitably suffer. In such cases information is not allowed to be progressed to intelligence. Military leaders like Eisenhower, Monash and Montgomery knew the value of intelligence, and utilised it adroitly.




The conduct of bonding retreats for management teams has been a regular event for numerous companies and entities.


High rope exercises and team building activities are typically fun, a break from the routine of work and can be insightful learning experiences. Their frequency has fallen since the onset of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. Another casualty of budget belt tightening.


Widespread anecdotal evidence shows that the most effective means for company team members to bond, to become motivated and to give commitment to the ideals and objectives of the entity is participation in periodic, goal orientated planning sessions.




Counter-intuitively, respect for the confidentiality of the issues addressed and the goals, objectives and targets set in planning sessions is increased by broadening the numbers involved in the planning process.


It is a consequence of “shared ownership” of the resultant document and commitment to the attainment of the established milestones and performance measures.




Effective planning processes and planning documents detail quantifiable, monitorable goals, assign authority, responsibility and accountability to individuals and groups, specify time horizons and facilitate and encourage ongoing revision, refinement and development.




How ironic. Most planning documents are long on outcomes and goals.


Too few focus on and determine the starting points.


As a result, the WHY question in the planning process can be left unresolved.


Consideration will typically be given to WHAT needs to be done and most time, effort and resources are dedicated to HOW the goals will be achieved.


The emphasis and outcomes need to be inverted for a truly actionable plan.... that is a good starting point on which to conclude.