Plan to Replan: Why Your Strategy Can (and Should) Change

If your fiscal year ends on December 31, now is the time of the year to kick off annual planning for next year.

A lot of us are cynical about annual planning. We all have experiences in which we poured out our hearts and souls to create a solid marketing plan or campaign, then the budget was reduced or the product got delayed or canceled. Sometimes changes in economic conditions or a company’s outlooks force us to go back to the drawing board.

Here is the dilemma of planning that can lead to therapy sessions: If we plan, chaos intervenes. If we don’t plan, chaos still intervenes.

So should we take more of a zen approach along the lines of “everything is nothing, planning is not planning”?

Why bother writing a strategy?

Here are the inherent benefits of planning that we subconsciously recognize, even if we don’t usually think it through:

  1. Know what to do to accomplish end goals
  2. Mitigate foreseeable chaos

Yes, the end goals may change, but having a plan allows you to adjust quickly (hopefully). Chaos does happen often (Murphy’s Law), but we minimize some mistakes and dramas upfront through planning.

For businesses, the sole purpose of a plan is an exercise for management to align budget and resources with business goals. Through the plan, the path they will set… (OK, that’s Yoda speak.)

The Difference Between “a plan” and “planning”

In addition, we need to recognize the difference between  “plans” and “planning”.

Planning is an active way of discussing the goals, objectives, strategies and tasks that we need to accomplish as a team. Plans are the documentations of planning at one point in time.

Because the environment changes, we need to continually communicate and collaborate on execution of a plan with our stakeholders; plans need to get updated to reflect changes.  Planning is really an ongoing process that helps us adjust the course, keep on-track and makes accomplishing our goals more likely.

President Eisenhower says it so poignantly, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”  Planning is the prerequisite of business success, but success is not guaranteed by planning.

To recap:

  • Planning is an active ongoing process, while plans are the documentation of that discussion at one point in time.
  • Planning aims to mitigate problems and changes, yet bear in mind that the only constant in life is change.
  • Planning does not guarantee success, yet it’s absolutely necessary.

These two quotes reflect the essences of plans vs. planning.

Have a plan, but be ready to abandon it at any moment.
– Jennifer Baichwal

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.
-Yogi Berra

Don’t fall in love with your marketing plans.  Don’t get frustrated with constant change.  It’s all part of the game.

And the saga of planning continues…


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