Business planning is full of paradox. It’s a matter of balance. Here are some interesting examples.
- Business plans are always wrong, but nonetheless vital. Wrong because they’re predicting the future and we’re human, we’re fallible, so we don’t get it right. Vital because we need the plan in order to track where, how, and what direction it was wrong, which becomes planning process, which becomes management. I deal with this a lot.
- You have to focus to survive, but you need new markets to grow. So which is it? Have you heard of the corridor principal? It says business strategy is like walking down a long corridor full of doors. Open every door to investigate and you never get anywhere. Ignore all the doors to just keep going and you never get any new opportunities.
- I’ve written before: “it’s better to have a mediocre strategy consistently applied over three or more years than a series of brilliant strategies, each applied for six months or so.” So do you stick to the plan regardless, like running into a brick wall? Or do you revise? When do you revise? How do you know? There’s paradox, where the human judgment comes in to override the formulaic.
The solution to that paradox is the frequent plan vs. actual review, tracking results and assumptions, to put changing the plan into a real context. Set the plan, review it, and revise it, frequently, based on needs. It’s still a tough decision, at times, because of the consistency vs. pivot problem; but keeping on top of it makes it easier. For more on that, check out Lean Business Plan as Business Dashboard and GPS.