Plans are useless — Let's start planning

Multiple well-known people in history said it, one of them was Eisenhower:

"In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." - General Dwight D. Eisenhower

And I share this opinion, planning is indispensable. Even if you are certain that the plan will change or that you won't be able to follow it in detail: A plan sets you up for success.

A Safety Net

Life can get intense. You start to react to the world around you when that happens. You are always just on-call for the next fire to fight.

This happened to me, this happened to you, I guess this happened to everybody. This kind of fail-safe routine will work for a time, but is not sustainable. A car can drive for a certain time in the red area until the engine will fail at some point. Some cars will make it longer, some shorter, like us humans.

Wouldn't it be great to have something like a strategy to get back to normal? A safety net? A plan maybe?

Plans vs Planning

What Eisenhower is emphasizing on in his speech is not about creating a plan and strictly following it. Eisenhower is emphasizing on the act planning. Planning for emergencies or unplanned events.

Even that you are not going to war like Eisenhower did, this practice can help you a lot. Think about past experiences that happened to you, that brought you in trouble.

That can be simple things like some events screwed up your schedule or a team member got sick or left the company. How could you react to that? How can you prepare yourself for this? What kind of steps do you need to follow to get back to "normal"?

Make it a Habit

Integrate regular planning into your schedule. In the Agile world planning is always built-in. In Scrum, you have on one hand the sprint planning that's creating a rough plan for the next iteration and on the other hand a sprint retrospective to look back on how the plan worked out. Moreover, you are planning improvements in the retrospective for the next cycle.

On your personal level that can be a weekly plan. What are you doing each day from Monday to Sunday? Where is your focus on what day? Or go even further and time-block your day (you will love it). At the end of each week you can revisit the plan you created and start planning improvements.

Preparation and Improvement

Applying this, on a personal or professional level, sets you up for success. Without planning, you won't know if you succeeded or not. Without planning, you will have a hard time reacting to unforeseen events. Without planning, you can't improve your behavior towards a goal.

You don't need great tools to start the act of planning, a piece of paper, a note-taking app, it doesn't matter. Everything you can write on with a pen or type in will do the job.

I hope my article could help you here. If you still have questions, don't hesitate and book a slot in my calendar. Then we can see how I can help you or your organization to succeed.

Daniel Hauck

Daniel Hauck