MILITARY AXIOMThe purpose of planning is to create a roadmap or blueprint for action.
The greatest value of planning isn’t the plan, although that’s useful. It’s the ideas and revelations that emerge during the process.
In other words, a tiny slice of clarity is better than no clarity at all. As you pursue that slice of clarity, you'll want to avoid these five common pitfalls.
1. Yielding to Gravity
Breaking the pull of gravity is often the most challenging stage of any rocket launch. The same is true of planning. If you’re simply can’t get your planning process started, you’re yielding to gravity. For tips and hints on how to break the inertia, read Painfree Action Planning: Tips & Tricks.
2. Pressing Pause
Delay and deferment are classic planning pitfalls. You know you’re suffering from this syndrome if you find yourself saying (or thinking), “I can’t develop a plan until [fill in the blank].”
Until what? Until you discover or refine your vision for the organization. Until you write or rewrite your mission statement. Until you’ve delineated your core values. Until you get more detail. Until …
If you don’t have any of those in place? Skip them. Focusing on planning may help pinpoint or clarify the missing components. If it doesn’t don’t worry. It will come to you, eventually.
3. Delaying for Details
Many a planning process is delayed because we become distracted by details we know and immobilized by details we don’t know.
Don’t overburden the process or the plan with deep known details, but be sure to capture them elsewhere. Don’t grind to halt when faced with unknowns. Flag areas where more detail is essential, and flesh out specifics at a later time.
4. Filing it Away
Another classic pitfall is completing a plan, declaring it is finished, then filing it away. Plans are living, breathing, evolving roadmaps.
They can be reshaped or negated by both internal and external forces. If you create a new product or hire a new employee, your capacity and potential have expanded. Update your plan.
If the economy takes off or a new government policy passes, your outlook and potential will shift again. Change the plan accordingly.
Keep your plan accessible. Revisit, refine and update it regularly, whether that’s once a week, every month or every quarter.
5. Planning without End
It’s easy to fall into the planning abyss and never fully climb out again. Action and decisions are delayed, because the plan’s not quite finished.
Avoid this pitfall. At some reasonable point, declare the plan to be sufficient for now, and move from planning to implementation.
Any plan, no matter how sketchy, is better than no plan at all. The (almost) Painfree Action Planning series is just one way to move from planning angst to planned action, where the practical day-to-day value resides.
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work,” according to Peter Drucker.
So, let’s get to work.
Painfree Action Planning: Overview
Painfree Action Planning: Core Components
Painfree Action Planning: Tips & Tricks
The Truth About Planning
Strategy | Where's Your Sweet Spot? (series)