In Action, Change, Strategy

“Predicting rain doesn’t count.  Building arks does.” – Warren Buffett

One of the things you’re supposed to do as a leader is think about the future.  It’s why there are so many books/articles/podcasts/whatever on planning, strategic planning, long-term planning, etc.  Everybody knows it’s important and understands that it’s something they probably should be doing.

Some leaders even attempt to actually do it.  They might pull together their leadership team, maybe offsite, maybe even for several days.  They might have some kind of template or set of tools they use to help their team develop a plan for the next three years, or five years, or ten years, or whatever time period they like.  Then they head back to the office feeling good about what they’ve done.

That’s when things usually fall apart.  Talking about the future and creating plans for the future is step one.  The rest of the steps involve actually implementing those plans.  So many organizations have wonderfully written, super intelligent, very creative strategic plans that sit on a shelf and don’t amount to anything.

I could write posts for years about why that happens and each post could cover a different topic.  The reasons why we think big and act small number into the dozens at least, if not more.  There are so many barriers that some organizations have given up planning for the future at all.

For today, here’s just one simple suggestion:  plan to revisit the plan.  One of the mistakes too many groups make when trying to implement any kind of plan is they don’t keep coming back to it.  They make the plan and then go off to complete tasks, but they don’t ever come back to talk about progress.

Part of the value of revisiting the plan is certainly accountability, but part of it is also that we live in a world that changes quickly and constantly.  Your fantastic plan will probably be out of date within months or weeks or even days.  A key person will leave your organization, or a competitor will do something unexpected, or customer needs will change, or some unexpected world event will happen.  If you aren’t regularly revisiting your plan, you won’t be agile enough to adapt to those things.

Planning for the future isn’t about planning for the future.  It’s about acting on your plan for the future.  If you only engage with the future and with strategic things once a year, or every few years, there’s no way you’ll make any meaningful progress.  And without that progress, your brilliant plan is meaningless.

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