Plans are useless

“The future is not a destination, it’s a direction”

This is a quote from Ed Catmull, author of Creativity Inc, a book about Pixar and Disney.

I saw a couple of tweets making a point that it made five year plans and roadmaps redundant.

I’m not sure it does tho.

You still need to choose a direction, and for that you need to decide on what sort of future you want.

Once you’ve done that, you need to decide how you’re going to get there.

That’s a plan.

“Plans Are Useless, But Planning Is Indispensable”

One of the greatest planners in history, General Dwight Eisenhower, said  “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

A lot of people who run a small business don’t bother making plans because, when the plan meets the real world, the real world wins.

I get that. But what they miss out on is the all important process of planning.

The other thing to remember is that a plan for a business is not the same as a plan for a life.

A plan for a business is about numbers, goals and targets, not about how the business owner feels about executing them.

Where it all gets a bit muddled is where the business IS the owner, and the two are inextricably entwined.

If you’re resisting making a plan, try this:

Start with the end in mind

Decide where you want to end up.

This might be at the end of your life or the end of the week.

As soon as you know what you want, you have a target or a goal – in other words, a destination to aim for.

Then you decide how you’re going to get there – that’s the direction you take.

Is your business the vehicle that will help you to live the sort of life you want?

Sometimes, what is right for the business isn’t right for you.

You know what would make the business successful but you don’t want to to do it, or it doesn’t fit with your life.

If you’re creating a business that can exist without you, that can be run by others, or sold, then the plan will be very different to the business that is your life.

When planning the direction your life will take, you might add a timescale or you might leave it open to see how long it takes.

You might decide to go in a straight line, finding a way round, under, over or through any obstacles.

You might look at each choice as it comes up and take a diversion, or even go round in a circle, but the overall direction won’t change, unless you decide you want a very different future.

The idea of the plan is not to stick rigidly to a set of instructions but to make a start in the right direction.

To take action.

Use the plan to make decisions (will this take me closer to, or further away from, the future I want?)

The alternative is to react to whatever crops up.

What direction will that take you in?

More importantly, where will you end up?

When you’ve made the plan you can throw it away if you like but what you’ll be left with, the process of creating the plan, will help you to keep heading in the right direction, even when things get tough.

If you want to create a plan for a business that can exist without you, that’s a very different proposition!

Want a hand to make a plan and keep heading in the right direction? Let me know, I’ll be happy to help! 

Related post: Profit isn’t everything 

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