Strategic Guessing

Serendipitously, the planning quotations keep showing up.  It’s great!  From 37 SignalsSignal vs. Noise blog:

Why don’t we just call plans what they really are: guesses. Unless you’re a fortune teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy. There are just too many factors that are out of your hands: market conditions, competitors, customers, the economy, etc. Writing a plan makes you feel in control of things you can’t actually control.

In fact, you might as well change the name of your business plans to business guesses, your financial plans to financial guesses, and your strategic planning to strategic guesses. Do that and you’ll probably start putting a lot less weight into those things.

That thought inspired by a pair of academics, Ian MacMillen and Rita Gunther McGrath, who amongst other things say, “It’s not failure that companies need to avoid, but rather failing expensively.”  Failure is good.  It’s learning.  More importantly it’s not planning, it’s doing.

In: Planning

The CEO (Tony Hsieh) of (one of) the coolest companies (Zappos) on Earth on planning:

At Zappos, we either think one year ahead or ten years ahead.  We don’t really do anything in between. For ten years ahead we think about what our long-term vision is,  which is definitely very important both for employees and the company.  It’s important to take a step toward that vision every day.  And then in terms of one year ahead it’s more about executing on the short term.  I think a lot of companies like to put together three or five years plans and I have yet to meet anyone who has done that where things turned out as they expected.  I think it’s more important to be able to react to the environment and marketplace.  There’s a quote by Darwin where he talked about the species that’s most likely to last longest is not the one that’s the strongest or the fastest, but the one that’s the most adaptable to change.  If you just have that mentality on an ongoing basis, the same thing applies to business. (the 26th story)

BONUS! The World Health Care Blog mentions Zappos and relates the company to health care here.