That's what someone I was helping in business a few years ago said. And I agree. Almost all plans don't work, if "work' means they achieve exactly what we hoped or expected them to. Although it is true the most people fail because they fail to plan, most plans do not work for a number of reasons:
Too Complicated and All Encompassing -- When I look back at the intricate and expansive plans most businesses including our own, most of the time they were written to satisfy some financial institution before they would lend money. Whereas that is one legitimate and necessary plan, in my experience it is seldom followed through on or used for anything other than the intended outcome of securing some cash to help run the business.
The Plan is Out of Date -- In today's fast moving, media based world, by the time most of us put together our plans, they are out of date and no longer relevant or representing what is really going on. This can be very frustrating, and get us to agree with the aforementioned colleague that "Plans don't work". It generally takes some calm, reflective and researching time to put together an effective plan. So why bother if it is going to be out of date before we finish it?
It Demands Commitment and Saying "No" to Things -- Let's face it, plans and goals will take if carried out extra effort, new skills, different conversations and involving of people not usually on our radar. So many of us like to play it by ear, go with the flow and keep all options open in case something better comes along. So to commit to something means we are saying "No" to something else. We can all accomplish a lot, yet we cannot achieve everything we want. We have to make choices and stick to them, and this can keep us from making a plan and following through with it.
Gary certainly thought all three of these things. Here is an excerpt from IMPACT! about him and how he felt about planning, then what he did. Enjoy!
We Need to Have Plans
In a workshop I recently conducted, we were discussing the need to have a plan for our lives. One particular fellow, about 23, let’s call him Gary, said; “I don’t want to plan! I want to be free! I want to wake up in the morning, and just go with the flow. This planning is not for me.” We can all understand this sentiment. Would it not be a joy if we could be free by not planning? However, the opposite is true. By not planning, we are surrendering our future, and our future happiness to someone or some organization, and because they do not have your best interests in mind, you may not like what they have in store for you! Plans are there for those who want to chart their own course and make the impact we want to make in life.
As Gary found out, because he had no plan, his girlfriend was not committed wholly to him. Because he had no plan, his job role continued to change, and not always for the better. Because he had no plan, he could not look back with satisfaction at the things he had accomplished on a daily, weekly or yearly basis. So, convinced to give it a try, Gary wrote a vision for what he wanted to become, to do, and to have. He started with what he wanted to become. Being comes before doing or having. Doing is the acting and behaving part of life. It is measured in activity and results others can see. Very often, doing is the fruit of our being. Having is generally described by what we possess. For most people ‘having’ involves external things – houses, cars, jobs, status, position, family, holidays, etc. Whereas it is ok to have things, having, like doing, works better for us as the fruitfulness of being. Otherwise what we have has us!
One’s plan is best written-down, we will explain why later. It’s early days, but already Gary has found his life more enriched. His written vision included being married, devoting more personal time to fishing, and other joint pursuits with his significant other. He wanted more control of the time he spent at work and in travel. Gary wanted some say in which projects he took on, how he motivated and built his team. His plan for how to reach his vision was one of the best I had seen. He was so motivated by it his whole demeanor and respect for himself grew.
Subsequently, so did the view others had of Gary. His boss went to work on helping Gary improve the way he was viewed higher up the organization. He and his girlfriend (now wife) are planning to buy their first home. He has structured his job, and is focusing his efforts on the places that will yield the better returns. He is more respected not only as a person, but as the enthusiastic leader he was meant to be. All because of the power of a well defined plan
So if you could devise a simple yet powerful plan using a 5 step planning tool, what could you achieve in 2015 that would break your own world record? We’ll share more the 5 steps in the next blog.