Remember when you could just wing it? Probably somewhere along the way, you were ahead of the curve at something. If you matured physically much faster than others of your age, then maybe you were the standout athlete in the school, without actually having to try very hard. If you are naturally good at something – math or science or literature etc… – then maybe you did not have to try very hard in high school to get good grades in that area. Maybe you were taller than other people, and had a really good jaw line or better hair and that attracted the gender you were interested in attracting. But, somewhere along the way things started to even out in that area. Others were also good at sport, others were also attractive to the target gender etc… It get’s more difficult over time, and somewhere along the way you had to start putting in the effort to remain good at something.
The point of this is that if you were not paying attention, or not following a plan, you did not get better at your chosen sport or area of studies just by winging it any longer. You needed to work at it and needed a plan for how you were going to do it. The alternative, was that you would be passed by in that area, by others who were working at it.
The same is true in your business. If you do not have a plan, then you do not know where you are going and will not know if you have arrived when you get there. If you do not have a plan, you cannot reliably communicate your value equation to your customers, your investors, your employees or even to yourself. If you do not have a plan, you will not know how to measure your own success or lack there of.
I have heard many people talk about a plan as a waste of time. Those that do that will say it is because the plan is almost always outdated the moment you are done creating the plan. To that I ask, “Well if you do not have a plan, how will you know when the game has changed and you should be adjusting your plan and trying a different course of action?” After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Without a plan, you run the risk of falling directly into that definition of insanity, trying to get different results with the same actions as before.
Creating a plan, continually evaluating the plan and adjusting the plan based on the changing environment around you is frankly the only way that you can get ahead of that changing environment. Imagine if you were sailing a boat and were presented with a crosswind situation that you did not plan for. Would it make sense to just keep sailing in the original direction that you had planned before you understood the new crosswind? At the same time, if you would not have had the plan in the first place, how would you know to adjust the plan to achieve the result you originally were hoping for?
In bicycle racing, a team must show up with a plan. But, the plan normally gets adjusted straight away in the race, because there is no way to know what every other team has planned or the weather or any other factor. It is the ultimate plan, adjust, activate, adjust, plan, activate, adjust scenario. But, experience says that you have to have a plan if you want to be part of the race.
Your business needs a plan, and it needs to be communicated, reviewed and adjusted continually. Plan, adjust, activate, adjust, plan, activate, adjust – it is never done.