Making plans is easy. Planning is more difficult. Plans always fail. Planning involves anticipating and avoiding the impact of failed plans. Conflating the two is a costly mistake, still made too often. Here are 5 often-overlooked benefits of planning.
Why is it important to distinguish between plans and planning?
“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”
This statement, attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower, has great appeal and is often quoted when the importance of planning is discussed.
As a former US Army general and president, making plans and planning were very much part of Eisenhower’s everyday life, but what exactly did he mean by this statement? Let’s look at the couple of times he used it in correspondence and a speech to better understand what he was getting at.
In a letter to a US diplomat, he quotes an unnamed soldier who said, “Peace-time plans are of no particular value, but peace-time planning is indispensable.”
“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything,” followed in a later speech in which he emphasised that planning is important precisely because things never happen according to plan.
Eisenhower’s statements imply at least four things:
Plans are stating ideal outcomes, while planning involves a careful assessment of current realities. Planning is the process of thinking through how outcomes can be achieved, what might possibly go wrong, and how best to respond when things – both foreseen and unforeseen – do go wrong.
Plans are goals that require planning or conclusions reached based on planning, while planning is the process of refining your plans, adapting them to changing realities.
Plans are always subject to change and can, therefore, become outdated, while planning is the ongoing foundation that ensures plans remain relevant.
Planning happens primarily during ‘peace-time’, allowing you to run into potential problems before they happen, providing you with strategies and tactics for when they do.
5 often-overlooked benefits of planning
Proper planning requires teamwork and involves an all-hands-on-deck approach. Having to think through different scenarios and potential problems together, means that communication and collaboration will improve in the process, even if this means identifying problem areas or personalities who struggle to work together.
Creativity and innovation are more likely
Along with better collaboration comes greater freedom to share ideas and to try out new approaches. It is in this type of environment that out-of-the-box perspectives can be brought to the table. Creativity and innovation are more likely should managers grab this opportunity.
Planning is a means of including more people in the plan. More people are given a voice or, at the very least, can better set and manage their expectations. Knowing what’s going on, what’s expected of you, and who you can count on provides a great deal of satisfaction.
Everyone involved in the plan will understand their roles more clearly. They will know who they are responsible to and who is counting on them. When errors creep in, it’s clear who needs to clean up the mess or where people can lend a hand to get everything back on track.
Teams that work well together, understand how their roles fit into the bigger picture.They also have a clear vision of where they’re heading and why they’re doing it, and are ultimately more productive. They will think of themselves as a team and keep one another motivated to achieve their shared goals.
In the coming weeks, we will share further thoughts on the importance of planning and particularly how it relates to sales teams. We will invite members of our own sales team to share thoughts on planning and also look at how our field sales app aids planning and help plans come together.