Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail

by Wehan Dreyer | February 15, 2022

Like many people, I am all about various mantras in life. Whether it be motivational, insightful, or inspirational, they are little bits of wisdom that resonate, evoke deeper thought, and even result in behavioural changes.

One of my favourites is, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

This quote is an oxymoron if you think about it… Quotes are designed to motivate or inspire immediately, and for a defined time. No inspirational quote, no matter how amazing it sounds when you hear it, no matter what awesome person said it, can fuel you day in and day out. For change to be sustainable you need a clear goal and a plan on how to achieve it, with the motivation to follow through with it.

As it is in life…

Think about this for a second: if you travel, you plan your trip. If you are getting married, you plan your wedding. If you are on a diet, you plan to go to the gym and prep your meals. If you throw a party, you plan the event. You would not dream of doing any of the above without some form of prior planning.

When you take the time to plan your life, you are taking the steps necessary to not only identify and reach your desired goal, but also to do so in the most efficient and productive manner. “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”

Rather than relying on pure chance, planning details the exact route to take. It helps you get there in the shortest time possible without running out of gas.

In business it is no different.

The importance of Organizational Planning

Planning is deciding in advance on what to do, when and how it will be done, and who will be doing it. Therefore, planning plays a critical role in the future success of an organization by determining the means and the methods to achieve the desired objectives.

A key element and starting point of this process should include the development of a Mission, Vision and Value Statement which aids in the way an organization functions. (More on this in a previous piece I wrote called, why bother with vision, mission and value statements?)

The importance of Organizational Planning

  1. Planning avoids haphazard actions – Planning avoids aimless activities and is necessary for avoiding hit-or-miss actions or random decisions. Without planning there will be confusion and chaos. Everyone in the organization should be aware of what is to be done to achieve the goals of an organization.
  2. Planning minimizes risk – Planning involves not only assessing potential risks but coming up with ways to mitigate them. One strategy is to create a risk management register. This helps prepare a company for dealing with various risks before they cause serious financial loss.
  3. Planning and technological development – An organization can only survive if it uses updated technology. Through planning, the possibilities of these technological developments are foreseen by the management so that old and obsolete machines/equipment can be replaced by newer ones and training can be organized to upskill employees.
  4. Planning helps in proper utilization of resources – Through planning, the resources available within the organization can be effectively used. It encourages the employees to come forward with difficulties being faced by them for the achievement of their targets.Thus, employees frequently discuss their problems with their managers and a sense of involvement is felt by everyone in the organization. It creates a team environment that is inclusive and open to ideas. They also suggest better methods of work and ways and means to reduce wastage.
  5. Planning uncovers problems – Preparation is another word for planning. Being prepared keeps you from getting caught off-guard if things do not go as planned. This is a crucial point. Planning does not mean everything always works as you intended. Errors, problems, and failures will still happen, but if you are planning, detailing, and implementing proper policies and procedures, it gives your team a roadmap to follow that is clear and precise. This in turn helps to highlight other problem areas more easily, such as inefficiencies, risks, or wastage and gives you a chance to implement fixes before it is too late.
  6. Planning gives perspective – Lastly, planning your goals and your direction helps to give you a clear perspective of what matters and what is possible to accomplish and ties in nicely with my first point.As you create your organizational goals you will focus on what you want to accomplish. Planning how to accomplish those goals will force you to organize them and to prioritize them and put them in perspective. No one wants to waste time working on something that is not important.Planning helps to stay focused and to keep your perspective. Keep your perspective on your purpose and your future. Then and only then will you see success and you will be rewarded for your planning. “Meticulous planning will enable everything a man or woman does to appear spontaneous.”

A few more mantras to remember

Often, organizations get caught up in the everyday grind and deal with problems and important decisions when they arise. This reactive approach is not only a risk on an operational and strategic level, but puts the focus on survival and damage control, rather than the focus being on growing the business. The simple difference between failure and fortune is ultimately effective planning.

So, of all the well-known quotes out there, maybe a variation of one sums it up best. Instead of “practice makes perfect” a better quote would be “planning makes perfect.”

The key there is “make” – it is a process. Therefore, “a good plan implemented today is still better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

If you are struggling to plan properly for your business and it feels like a mountain in front of you, reach out to us and let us help guide you along the way.


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