Planning is an activity that has been proven to help us become effective. Plans are an outcome of planning.
The challenge both people and organizations face with planning is that it is easy to become wedded to the plans that emerge from the planning process. So, they refuse to change course and block progress if it comes down to it.
The reason? A plan is stationary and stationary objects bring a false sense of certainty along with them. That false sense of certainty is all we need to refuse change and the tension that accompanies progress.
The act of planning, on the other hand, serves a different function. It is, very simply, a proxy for thoughtfulness. A well run planning process asks us to be aware of the nature of our environment and to intentionally pick which direction we’d like to move toward. Of course, when the nature of the environment changes, we’ll need to change as well.
Thus, planning shares two characteristics that great processes share – it is dynamic and the process matters far greater than the outcome.
In the long run, our plans don’t matter. The habit of planning, however, makes all the difference.