Make a Plan, and Then Get Ready to Change It


I’m a grade “A” plan maker. I make beautiful plans that involve elaborate outlines, detailed schedules and helpful drawings. They’re works of art.

The big flaw?

I leave no room for reality.

I learned this lesson while building my first household budget for my husband and I. It included red and black columns that detailed out specific expenses. It was beautiful!

The problem is that my budget had no room for unforeseen things that would come up. Our savings was slowly chipped away for tires and household supplies that needed to be purchased months before their scheduled replacement dates.

The truth is, none of us live in vacuums. And as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

So what does that mean for your organization?

First, when envisioning the future, it’s never a bad idea to look back at the past. You can bet that my second household budget was informed from the first, and a new column for “unexpected costs” was added.

Seeing where your previous plan couldn't bend with reality helps you stay more flexible the next time around.

Second, who are you inviting to the table? Honestly, I made that first budget without much input from my husband. This means I left out the perspective of someone who does 50% of our household spending.

When  creating your plan, are you involving enough differing opinions? No one person owns the truth. A good way to create a plan that can survive outside of a vacuum is to invite the people who will be affected during the planning phase.

Third, make sure you schedule time to course correct. Pilots use waypoints, which are sets of coordinates that identify a point in physical space, so they can course correct during the flight and make sure they get to their destination the most effective way possible.

It’s unreasonable to think about charting a course from L.A. to New York without taking the miles in between into consideration. This is true for most plans. Make things less difficult by giving yourself the ability to check back in.

Any plan, whether it’s a personal budget or the strategy for an entire organization, cannot survive its collision with reality. But it can be ready to embrace it!

Interrogate Reality
Seattle Business Week:The Engaged Workforce

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