Chris Bradley

It’s extraordinarily important to know what is going to happen next month, what resources need to move, and what initiatives you have to launch. The problem is, that’s a different mode of thinking from strategy. As soon as you put strategy and planning together, planning will always win.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.

Robert M. Donnelly

Peter Drucker said that “to defend yesterday is a larger risk than to create tomorrow.” Concentrating for too long on what was at the expense of what will be has been the formula for failure for many CEOs.

Tom Landry

Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.

Helmuth von Moltke

No plan survives contact with the enemy.

Frank Plaschke, Fabrice Roghé, Fabian Günther

Given today’s volatile environment, the overall focus for planning must move away from precise forecasting and toward more strategic, top-down ambition-setting that is validated with bottom-up business insight. This approach should be tied to contingency plans in case the targets cannot be met—and complemented by more frequent short-term forecasts of key metrics. However, embracing unpredictability and encouraging entrepreneurship within reasonable limits entails a significant shift … [ Read more ]

Ken Favaro and Greg Rotz

A common pitfall is tying incentive compensation, such as annual bonuses, to performance against a predetermined plan or budget. This inevitably leads people to restrain their aspirations for the business in order to make it easier to “beat plan.” In turn, this is interpreted as sandbagging by corporate headquarters or investors. The end result is a time-consuming, soul-destroying, and ultimately unproductive gaming of the planning … [ Read more ]

Thomas C. Schelling

There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable. The contingency we have not considered seriously looks strange; what looks strange is thought improbable; what is improbable need not be considered seriously.

Seymour Tilles

If you ask young men what they want to accomplish by the time they are 40, the answers you get fall into two distinct categories. There are those—the great majority—who will respond in terms of what they want to have. This is especially true of graduate students of business administration. There are some men, however, who will answer in terms of the kind of men … [ Read more ]

Daniel Kahneman

A plan is only a scenario, and almost by definition, it is optimistic. Any complex undertaking is subject to myriad problems — from technology failures to shifts in exchange rates to bad weather — and it is beyond the reach of the human imagination to foresee all of them at the outset. Although the probability of any one of these events could be low, the … [ Read more ]

Jan C. Fransoo, Philip G. Moscoso, Toni Waefler, Dieter Fischer, Antti Tenhiälä

There is no doubt that planning through a hierarchical structure has significant advantages, such as breaking a complex problem into more easily solvable parts or enabling lower levels to respond more quickly to problems. However, hierarchical organization poses two major problems. First, while one or more areas may find local ways to improve planning and production, the net effect on the whole organization may be … [ Read more ]

Richard Rumelt

There are only two ways to get [substantially higher performance]. One, you can invent your way to success. Unfortunately, you can’t count on that. The second path is to exploit some change in your environment-in technology, consumer tastes, laws, resource prices, or competitive behavior-and ride that change with quickness and skill. This second path is how most successful companies make it. Changes, however, don’t come … [ Read more ]

Paul Graham

If you’re an outsider, don’t be ruled by plans. Planning is often just a weakness forced on those who delegate.

James P. Lewis

Planning and control are Siamese twins. You can’t have control if you don’t have a plan, because the very definition of control is that you compare progress against your plan and take corrective action if you are off course. Another thing to remember, which seems counterintuitive, is that the more important a deadline is, the more important a plan becomes.

Chip R. Bell

There is value in careful planning and thoughtful preparation. However, until there is execution, no plan is flawed; no preparation inadequate. Execution spotlights all. Cultures can get enamored with the preliminaries since there are no consequences.

Rita McGrath

Planning and control processes depress variance in favor of better near-term performance. Performance looks best when variance is limited, but that’s a terrible place to be when things change.

If you’re thinking strategically today, you need some way of keeping uncertainty alive and kicking, of maximizing rather than minimizing variance.

Tom Kelley and Christopher Littman

Enlightened trial and error succeeds over the planning of the lone genius.

Peter Drucker

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no plans.