“plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

Just the other day, I had a pleasant conversation with a senior leader of a very prosperous company here on the West Coast.  Our dialog concerned her company’s future.  What will business be like once COVID begins to truly recede.   Together, our discussion was focused on formulating plans for the organization to be flexible, and very focused on delivering value.  We are seeking to take advantage of what was learned during this pandemic.

I made the comment, that plans are not prescriptions.   She, laughed and quipped, “plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”  I listened and pondered this response.  She was correct — this statement gave me pause.  To me, it was insightful, rational, even enlightening.   I concurred immediately.  

Entertained by my admiration of the comment, she advised me that she was not the original author.  Former President and US Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower authored this enlightening passage.  General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander for the invasion of Europe during World War II, planned and plotted, spending enormous efforts into planning.  However, as history showed us, situations arise, the adversary does not behave as we planned.    He and the allied forces were faced with extraordinary circumstances.

Plans may not have been executed in the same manner as outlined.  However, planning and the plans themselves, provided the framework, the map for how to proceed, ultimately, defeating the enemy and ending the war.

This pandemic may not be on the order of a World War.  However, COVID is very serious: impacting lives, families and businesses throughout the world.    As Eisenhower demonstrated, I would encourage us all to be nimble and agile in our approach to business operations—looking for the advantages and productive means to win.  Planning is still a wise endeavor.   Let’s go forth and conquer our destiny as a business.  Let’s plan to win, by being very nimble to adjust and keep moving forward to success.   Like the Allied forces, we will face strife and setbacks, however, if we keep planning and moving forward, we will win.