This is from my notes dated January 10, 2010. I stumbled on it and I thought it is a good idea publishing it. edited and updated
Planning is considered a very important activity in most of man’s activities or actions, especially in large scale and cooperative efforts. Good Business and Environment Administration and Management, I woukd argue, requires good planning. It is said that to fail to plan is tantamount to plan to fail. Planning today is more important than ever because life is not only more fluid but tougher and tougher. It never gets easy and success, especially the big ones, can only be achieved by those who has strong minds and can more or less anticipate how things will unfold and make the necessary preparations. Planning is an essential element in that preparations.
At age 40, I have already participated in a number of planning exercises and it is not uncommon for me to hear people complain or remark that plans do not happen and so there is actually no point in this exercise. Intentionally or not, many people leave a lot of things to fate or chance. I am included in the list fir a long time. Perhaps, most of us really think that whatever will be, will be.
In my opinion, while other people would keep thinking that a plan is not important, sensible individuals would always recognize the value of a good plan. On lectures and literatures about planning, making a S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound) plan is always what I hear. And yet still, people get frustrated and disappointed however SMART and smart they do the planning. A management executive friend of mine shared that the former company she worked for was 60% off their target. The problem, I think, is on our knowledge and understanding of plans. We presume that a SMART plan is necessarily smart enough to succeed. Here, I intend to shed some light on planning. I will begin with the question, “What could happen after a plan is laid down?” My answer to this question proceeds from my personal thoughts on my experiences and knowledge about planning.
There are at least four possibilities after a plan is prepared depending on the type of the plan.
The Rare Ideal Plan
Foremost, it is the common, and naive, expectation that once a plan was crafted everything falls into places according to the details of the plan. It should be SMART after all. All of the realities involved in the plan changes and a new reality comes into being. Although I heared some people saying, “things are falling into places”, there is no personal experience for me to summon as a real life case for this. I can only envy their experience and I long to say the same words. This is the scenario for an Ideal Plan. Yet, an experienced person knows that this is seldom, actually rarely, the case.
The Mere Dream Plan
The second possibility is that after a plan was made, it could actually remain as it is – a plan, waiting for execution. For various reasons, some plans simply fail to engage its object and never meet the reality it seeks to change. Stephen Covey says that reality happens twice – first in the mind, secondly in the external world. Unfortunately, some plans remain only in the mind, or on the white sheet, if it is a bit luckier getting written, but never gets experienced in the external world. I call this the Mere Dream Plan.
So far these two possibilities are the extreme fates of a plan – 1) after planning, there is the rare case of all things falling into places, and 2) after planning, it remains a plan and never gets off the dream or the drawing table. There are two more common fates of plans somewhere in the middle of these extremes.
The Unfortunately Doomed Plan
Thirdly, a plan could meet the realities it seeks to modify but the reality could be very tough and strong enough to break the plan into pieces or burn it into ashes. This plan is weak. Somebody said that all plans fail once it meets reality. This seems ironic. How could a SMART plan fail? Well, most plans simply crumble into pieces against the realities it faces and has to be totally abandoned. I call this the Unfortunately Doomed Plan.
The Realistically Dynamic or Dialectical Plan
A more realistic and perhaps the better fate of a plan is a practical one. As I see it, aplan may be SMART but still not practical against the realities of life. That is, it has to be a plan that meets the external world, but takes on changes in the details because of the fluid realities of life so it could remain standing, relevant and keep realizing its objectives. This kind of plan recognizes that it is not the plan per se that is primary, but the goals and objectives for which it was crafted. There are numerous reasons why a plan has to be modified and a good, realistic plan gets adjustments according to the changing realities and circumstances of life. I call this the Dynamic or Dialectical Plan.
Sensible people build on the last reality – plans that continually changes to meet its goal or objectives. The other plans could be a rarely ideal plan, a mere dream plan or an unfortunately doomed plan.
What is the type of plan that you have?