Is the phrase “Failing to plan is planning to fail” true?

Many executives and small business owners that I have worked with do not believe in business planning. Several do not know where to begin or how to write a business plan. Others either hire professional facilitators to assist with them with their strategic planning or develop their business strategy using strategic planning templates.


When you examine the business results that these two types of managers deliver, you will find that they fall into one of four categories as described in the diagram below:


Those who don’t formulate business strategy and don’t have a picture in their mind of what they want to become cannot execute because they do not have a business plan. They are directionless and tend to react to events as they occur. As the saying goes, “if you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there.”


Managers who do not develop a formal business plan but have a vivid mental picture of where they are going (their vision) and how they plan to get there (business plan) will generally produce mediocre results consistent with or below industry levels.


Many executives engage in developing an elaborate business strategy and a detailed plan. However, that is where is process dies. The business plan is placed in the bottom drawer, rarely to see the light of day again. Any relationship between the day-to-day activity and the business plan is largely coincidental. This approach is clearly a waste of time.


Finally the group of SMEs and executives who develop business strategy and ensure that they implement their business plans flawlessly tend to deliver superior results on a consistent basis.


So, is “Failing to plan is planning to fail?” You decide!

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One Response to “Is the phrase “Failing to plan is planning to fail” true?”

  1. Douglas Minchin says:

    “Failing to plan is planning to fail”
    This rhetorical question should be a truism for good business operators and for running your life generally.
    One can run one’s business or life upon gut feelings and trusting one’s luck but that involves a high, inherent risk of something going wrong.
    Unfortunately Murphy has a bad habit of sticking his nose into your business too and it’s often at critical times when one is relying on everything going right in order to be successful.
    One of my favourites truisms is to operate to the 5P principle.
    i.e. Professional Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
    A good example of this is in the results one achieves when one does a presenation at a conference/seminar/workshop.
    When one has thoroughly researched, prepared, revised and practiced one’s presentation, it’s typically confidently delivered and well received, whilst the corollary is also true.
    Poor planning and preparation leads to poor performance.
    So it’s a resounding Yes! Failing to plan is planning to fail.

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