One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said “No battle was ever won without a plan, and no battle ever went according to plan”. In business, I’ve thought of this 70 year old quote a thousand times. I’ve worked with lots of tactical folks that love to dive in and crank – me too, trust me. Lots of times, we get away with that tactical execution which is awesome because you get it done and move on – it is a great approach for small little stuff. But a major undertaking, a battle, needs a plan to routinely succeed – ask Dwight, the supreme leader of allied forces! The tactician will argue that planning is a waste of time – that’s big company, old school – let’s go get it done. They’ll quickly “finish”. Often they’ll be back shortly to fix things. They’ll be back again to fix the fixes. They’ll live with less than stellar results. They’ll ask other to work around their tactical errors. Lots of leaky expenses and most dubiously will be the opportunity cost that is really hard to see accumulating.
So Dwight’s idea wasn’t that you needed to complicate things, but a plan is more than a nice-to-have if you’re serious about a good success record. No need to make your plan crazy to manage or rigid because Dwight also noted that things never seem to go according to plan. So be prepared to adjust and adapt if you want to consistently win. I think Dwight might have been one of the forefathers of the Agile discipline.