Mar 11 2014

General George S. Patton (USA) was once quoted as saying “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week”. And I agree, in principle, although I would argue it is more relevant in war than business. We usually can afford a week to perfect the plan. However, what I see all too often, is no plan, violently executed. We are in such a rush to get things done, that we run headlong into whatever it is, making mistake after mistake.

All organisations have some amount of change going on at any given time. Dynamic Organisations are pushing for that change, constantly improving. These changes though, can come in 2 ways, planned and executed well, or not planned and as a consequence, executed poorly at best. There is a reason the Shewhart (Deming) cycle is PDCA; Plan, Do, Check, Act and not DO, DO, DO…

If we slowed down, thought through our objectives and considered all possible courses of action, we may think differently. We may also plan our actions more appropriately, and in doing so, we are likely to both execute better, but also consider potential errors in the course of action being considered. I’ve seen great plans executed well, but the result didn’t achieve the desired outcome. I’ve also seen great plans, executed well where the result achieved the outcome, but then caused a different, often bigger problem than the change was removing.

Spending the time, thinking through the objective, the strategy or tactics needed to achieve it & of course potential unintended consequences can greatly affect our success, and our appetite for more change, more improvement. If we get it wrong more often than not, we may begin to fear change, to fear improvement and thus not stretch or push ourselves for greater & greater achievement. And yet, the more we get it wrong, the more we need to improve.

Of course I’m not suggesting analysis paralysis, or spending so much time planning & thinking through potential options and consequences that we miss the boat, become an “also ran”. But we can always afford the time, either to do it right the first time, or to do it over later…

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