Find making plans work tough?

Some would have you believe that once you have made you plan if you stick to it through thick and thin, all will be well. Well in reality things seldom work out as you expect, especially because plans always involve people. Then, of course, there are those plans, especially strategic ones, that on completion are launched and then filed away with due ceremony not to be looked at again, perhaps until the next planning cycle begins.

"It's tough to make predictions, particularly about the future."

So said Lawrence Peter 'Yogi' Berra (1925-2015) who was an American professional baseball catcher, manager and coach. He was known for his malapropisms, pithy and paradoxical quotes.

I was reminded of this quote by a current BBC TV programme advert for the satirical news quiz Have I got news for you that features Paul Merton and Ian Hislop. Merton is dressed up as a fortune-teller reading his crystal ball apparently after the last series predicting all the events that will occur before the new series. Merton apparently predicts all the real events ending up with forecasting that Boris Johnson would become Foreign Secretary. Hislop finds this last prediction completely beyond belief and, after snatching his payment, storms off. The future is unfortunately unpredictable as Yogi Berra points out above.

At the risk of putting you into quote meltdown, Dwight D. Eisenhower said,

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

Expanding upon what Eisenhower has said, the right pre-planning research, analysis, conversations and thinking in the planning process lead to an understanding of the whole situation or, as some call it, the system. Once any plan goes into action it will come into contact with reality. However, because an understanding has been gained, the inevitable challenges that are met can be overcome by informed corrective action and forward momentum maintained. Plans should not be the work of a specialist band of strategic 'monks' working in splendid isolation. For the pre-planning research, analysis, conversations and thinking to be a sound basis for a plan, they need to involve as many people as practicable.

Do you have an annual strategic planning process? Do you work it? How could you improve your planning process? How could you improve the way that you implement and work with your plan?