Failure to Plan Is Planning to Fail

Failure to Plan Is Planning to Fail

Ben Franklin is credited with the above statement. As CEOs and business owners, we know this to be true. Another quote credited to Dwight Eisenhower is that “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” How do we grow and operate our business with these two seemingly contradictory maxims?

Understanding the Present Situation

Planning always starts with understanding where we are. It forces us to conduct a thorough review of our strengths and capabilities. This analysis may reveal assets and capabilities that are not fully leveraged. It may show us that it is easier to increase the activities that are currently resulting in success than to engage in new ones. Thoughtful, honest reflection may also show us that our organization has a weakness. This may be particularly true if we look forward at a profitable opportunity that is on the horizon. When we look at what is stopping us from moving from the present to the future, we may discover that we lack certain capabilities to address those opportunities. So planning allows us to create actions that will build those capabilities. Of course, this does not guarantee success, but it greatly increases the likelihood.

Actions Not Words

Wishing does not make something happen. Developing an action plan without considering resources can ensure that we do not accomplish the desired objective. It also shows that we also can sometimes stress the organization in other areas which can increase the risk of the business falling short or even failing. We must always balance the urgency of the objective with the achievable. Passing on opportunities while building capabilities may be the best alternative. Improving results in tangible, achievable ways builds the financial and organizational strength to action even bigger opportunities.

Increasing Capabilities

Building capabilities permits the business to react to external changes caused by competitors, customers, and other marketplace dynamics. Building unique competitive strengths may allow the business to shape the marketplace, or at a minimum achieve above average results. Being flexible and responsive to customers and the market are key. Rigid plans that are reinforced and religiously adhered to without achieving the desired results, most often mean that the market has changed or the underlying assumptions are no longer valid. Unfortunately, we have all seen businesses fail because they either persist or double down on things that are not working. Further, they do not anticipate the inevitable response your competitor will make when you achieve success at his or her expense. Shoreview Management Advisors has deep experience in helping CEOs and owners identify opportunities and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the business. From there, Shoreview can assist leaders in preparing for and executing the changes necessary to achieve tangible business results in the near term.


Contact Jeffrey Cartwright to talk with us about your objectives and how we can help you achieve them.