Let’s say you want to build a new house. What’s your first step? Dig a hole? Before you send out a backhoe and start digging a hole, the first step is creating a plan or blueprint. Developing a plan defines what you want to build. If you didn’t set out a plan, how do you think the finished house would look? Like a shack or worse yet, something you couldn’t afford to finish? Regardless, it’s unlikely it would fulfill your needs or your vision.
Like a poorly planned house, many organizations have good intentions but no plan and, worse yet, no planning. The result is a bunch of projects that don’t necessarily work together. They are fragmented. It’s the equivalent of people in a company that collectively do their jobs but don’t have a firm grasp of the direction of the company. They might do great work, but they are less effective than if they understood the vision and goals more fully. Solos in businesses and families cripple effectiveness.
If you are looking to gain some speed in 2013, take a look at your planning process. While developing a plan might not be at the top of your priority list, there is real value in the planning process; the process of talking through what makes sense and how it will be accomplished, assigning that responsibility to people and revisiting and refining it throughout the year. In the words of Dwight Eisenhower, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.”