It’s a seductive argument. The world moves fast, how can you forecast your sales for three years from now when it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen in three weeks? There’s clearly no point in planning…
On the surface, it’s easy to agree. But when you think about it, it doesn’t make any sense at all.
Let’s say you were driving across the country. You’ve figured out the route you want to take and have plotted it out on a map. But along your way there’s road construction that you have to get around and then you end up taking a scenic detour that takes you hundreds of miles out of your way. You’re not on your planned path anymore.
But because you bothered to plan your route in the first place, you were familiar with the roads around the construction sites and were able to find a quick way around them. Because you had your map handy, you were confident that you’d find your way back to the main highway after taking the scenic route for a while. Your original plotted course on the map may be useless, but not the planning of the trip.
That’s a long way of saying that the written business plan document is one thing, and business planning is quite another. Alan Gleeson explained it nicely in his recent rebuttal to an anti- business planning article on Small Business Can:
Part of the confusion lies in the fact that the phrase ‘business plan’ is a homonym (i.e. has two separate meanings), a physical, detailed business plan document and a plan for your business. Viewing business planning through this lens makes it easier to see how valid criticism of the former can taint the latter. Business planning entails setting goals that need to be accomplished, managing cash flow, establishing milestones, allocating resources and forecasting sales. Activities that can be assigned to individuals who are then held accountable. Are you really suggesting that these are pointless? What of the old adage,’what gets measured gets managed?’ Planning is an integral part of management and should continue to be.
What do you think? Do you think you should skip thinking about the future and planning for the possibilities, or that the uncertainty ahead makes planning even more important?
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