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3 Things Acrobats Teach us About Business Planning

Maybe I’ve overdosed on Cirque du Soleil when I’m thinking about the net and business planning instead of the show. But I did. I was watching the beautiful trapeze artist spin gracefully through the air, twisting and turning, then tuck and land in the net. And that (the net, not the artist) made me think of good business planning.

1. How the Net Absorbs Change

The net changed instantly as she dropped into it. It reacted to her weight, lowering the surface on one side, but all the connections, the cords and knots and such, remained connected.

Business planning, done right, does the same thing for your business. When change hits, if you have a plan, then it has already connected the interdependencies, so you can see them better and respond to change faster.

When the big recession hit in 2008, companies with business plans and good business planning process were able to adjust to the drop much more quickly than their competition. Sales dropped suddenly. The companies with good planning process turned to their plans and quickly adjusted costs, expenses, marketing, and so forth to deal with the change. The ones without good planning had to dig into their business details during the crisis to develop and understand the connections. With planning, the connections are there, so you adjust them.

As we climb slowly back out of the recession, planning will help again. This time it will be positive adjustments, as assumptions change for the better. I hope.

2. The Soft Landing

With the Cirque du Soleil shows, the net isn’t just a safety net sitting there in case somebody messes up; it’s part of the routine. It’s the landing. It’s like the pool for the high divers.

Good business planning is an easy landing for managing your business better. Like the net, it connects the various parts of the business. It also builds you the metrics and accountability you need to keep on top of all the moving parts, and the tasks and the people.

As change happens, you compare it to the plan, so that you can see it happening, work with it, and move with the change. You capitalize on opportunities and avoid threats. That’s a lot like a soft landing.

3. Artistry and Beauty Take Planning

I’m glad to report that I broke my reverie and turned my attention back to the show. They do it so well, so artfully, that they seem to be graceful flying creatures by their very nature. But no. Planning, rehearsals, choreography, more rehearsals, working it out over and over, every step of the way; that’s what makes it so beautiful.

And it all works very well. Like we want our businesses to work.

(Image: copied with my thanks from, website of Barry Cordage Ltd., which sells the nets in the picture.)


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