“Planning without Action is futile, Action without planning is fatal” – Unknown
Originally posted 6/2/2015, revised 5/16/2021.
One of the most profound concepts I have embraced since joining the ActionCOACH team is the many positive results of having written plans. It is commonly believed that those who have written plans outperform their contemporaries by a large margin. While the often quoted alumni studies at Harvard or Yale are urban myths, one actual study conducted by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, (to you can read her research click here) provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three coaching tools:
- Commitment and
- Writing down one’s goals.
This study demonstrates that writing one’s goal enhances goal achievement.
You may fall into the group, along with the vast majority of people, who tried writing a plan on one or two occasions only to conclude that planning does not work. Perhaps, you bit off more than you could reasonably accomplish, set unrealistic deadlines, did not set deadlines or your plans and goals were not specific enough. Maybe you believe or concluded that planning is useless because plans are obsolete as soon as they are finished. Regardless of your reasons for not planning in the past, I urge you to consider planning your business and your life starting now for the following reasons and benefits.
First of all, planning is an ongoing process. The main value of planning is periodically thinking about your business and your life in an organized manner. When a planning process is followed, several things naturally occur:
- You attain focus – you weed out the noise that naturally occurs in your life
- You prioritize – things in a logical order prevent you from over committing (biting off more than you can reasonably accomplish).
- Your filters open – your conscious and subconscious mind are opened to collect the resources, knowledge and partners you need to achieve your goals
- You communicate – a plan is a great communication tool to use when you delegate and seek assistance
- You create a great “rallying point” for your team
As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” We all have only twenty four hours in a day. Effective use of time has a direct relationship to a person’s level of success. It is what separates the successful from the unsuccessful, in all aspects of life. Having plans will greatly increase the results you achieve from your twenty four hours.
Finally, and most importantly, most businesses develop and grow organically, with little or no planning. Many grow and reach a “point of no return” where, for example, they may be supporting an inefficient or counter-productive structure, the right people in the wrong roles or the wrong people in the right roles, or worst of all the wrong people in the wrong roles. Their business may not be able to adjust to current market conditions in a timely fashion. They might have over-expanded, under-expanded, passed on a promising opportunity or pursued a disastrous opportunity. These situations become disastrous after a business passes the point beyond which it cannot “undo” and restart without more investment of time and capital than is available. Thus, it is essential to avoid growing organically and hitting the point of no return by adopting a planning process as early as possible and of course sticking to it. You can either have a reactive business or a proactive business.