Look before you leap

An old adage suggests "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail".  It is what comes to mind when considering how we often rush to implement new ideas without first taking the time to think them through.  Not taking the time may cut bureaucracy and yield expediency but does so at the risk of tarnished results.  Thus are there cases where planning is essential in order to achieve the best results?  Do solid plans created before implementing an idea save the hassle, frustration and lack of forward movement when there isn't one?  Planning such that we identify tangible goals, turn those goals into actions and those actions into quantifiable results?  If so, is it possible to do so while not bogging ourselves down with unnecessary clutter and still ensuring we stay on track?  Sure, but it begins with accepting that we need to plan ahead to start making a difference.

The consequences of a lack of planning once again loom over our heads as we hear that Sales Focus has been dropped as our marketing service provider.  After a snap announcement and a rocky introduction this about face illuminates the consequences of not looking before you leap.  The latest quick fix for tourism has turned out to not be a fix at all as we again find ourselves no further ahead than where we started.  We've burnt time and money but have little to show for it.  Unfortunately quick fixes rarely address the underlying problems.

Some would argue that foresight and planning can hinder the creative process and many would agree.  The word bureaucracy wouldn't hold such negative connotations if it did not often take an age and a day to get simple things done.  Indeed, it was the hallmark of our previous leader to progress at a snails pace which led to the desire for change to a man of less talk and more action.  The problem?  All too often we reap what we sow as rather than finding a balance between talk and action the pendulum has swung too far the other way.  Jumping from one extreme to the next rarely yields the results you seek.

Is upfront planning worth the hassle and frustration you save by not having planned to begin with?  By attacking early with adequate planning and sufficient feedback you're more likely to see your idea bloom into a success.  This rather than witness it bogged down with endless course changes and quick fixes which will surely leave you running in circles.  Planning early means establishing where you're going before you try to get there.  Converting wavy bright ideas into tangible goals and then those goals into actions to establish a definitive means of filling in the steps to get from A to Z without glossing over those 24 letters inbetween.  Of course no plan is bulletproof so criticism is essential and should be embraced as it can point out weaknesses that would have held your plan from succeeding.  In the end, adequate feedback will yield a stronger result as your actions will be more likely to reach for those goals you've set in order to succeed.  

Without being able to determine where you are and how you got there you'll have no idea if you've gone anywhere. Thus comprehensive metrics to track the progress of your actions are essential to ensure you're progressing towards and not away from your goals. If you find yourself side tracked, it's essential to reevaluate from the beginning of these steps to get back to the right path.  Knowing where you're going and staying on track is one of the best ways to actually get there but one we all too frequently overlook.

Unfortunately too many projects have succumbed to an act first, think later approach.  An approach that yields little more than greater bureaucracy every time we try to change gears and come up with a new quick fix  This rather than getting down to solving the core problems through concrete planning before we act.  Education is a good example.  What is our plan?  What are our goals?  What actions are we taking?  How are we measuring our progress?  Few know, but we seem to be changing gears alot.  Other programs suffer the same symptoms.  Future care.  Where's the plan?  Casinos.  Do they meet a goal through an action that serves a part of a clear plan or are they simply another quick fix?  The same could be said of many venues.  Whether or not there are plans for such circumstances, they certainly are not communicated very well and feedback is muted, not encouraged.  As long as we don't conclusively identify what we're aiming to achieve and strive for feedback before setting a path we'll end up achieving nothing and going nowhere.  

The fear is that by not planning we're planning to fail.  Sure planning means more talk and a little less action but without it, we're risking endlessly poor results.  Not planning can cost us more in the long run as we always chase that next quick fix like a dog chasing it's tail, assuredly going nowhere.  Planning may not cut the time it takes to get results but in the end it can make those results more worthwhile.  Does it not make sense to develop solid plans before beginning?  Can we identify tangible goals, turn those goals into actions and those actions into quantifiable results?  This while not bogging ourselves in unnecessary clutter and getting sidetracked on a whim, on the next quick fix?  When we have a plan, can we ensure we stay on track by continuously reevaluating whether we're getting closer to or further away from where we want to be?  Perhaps, but our first step is to admit we need plans so we can agree upon where we are and where we're going before we find ourselves diving blindly into depths unknown.

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