At Connections I was ‘King of Lists’. My success mantra was ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ and my planning took the form of the list. Believe me I could plan for any occasion, any situation and any action – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, whatever. And the best way to plan is to carefully write everything down on a piece of paper and then rip the paper to shreds. This accurately reflects what happens to plans in real life.
You can’t start planning unless you’ve got a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. The paper should be pristine and the pencil sharpened to a point only obtained with specialist diamond cutting equipment. You then need some peace and quiet and probably a cup of strong coffee. Several chocolate digestives are required if you’re going to take planning seriously (hobnobs purely highlight a lackadaisical and non-committed approach). Often the first part of the subsequent detailed plan is a trip to the shops for more chocolate digestives.
As well as writing a list there are two other ways of planning – drawing a diagram and daydreaming. Within management circles these have been elevated beyond the simplistic to the elegant concept of mind-mapping and blue-sky-thinking. I personally became highly adept at drawing up exceptionally complex organisational diagrams only to realise I then spent more time colouring them in than executing them. Daydreaming made me realise that any more than three points on the list confused me and I could never remember them.
I particularly enjoyed planning after the event. This made it a lot easier because I knew exactly what had happened and allowed me to come up with highly accurate and impressive plans that made me look terrifically on-the-ball.
So you have your plan. That’s the easy bit as now you’ve got to make a decision. There are three kinds of decisions: proactive, reactive and radioactive. Proactive decisions are the ones you make to give the impression that you’re in full control. And when that one goes wrong you just continue making further proactive decisions about how you’re going to get out of the mess you’ve just created. Reactive decisions are for the procrastinators amongst us as the change is inevitable so why rush out to greet it. Reactive decisions purely identify the proactive decisions are to blame for the whole kafuffle. Radioactive decisions are the really big decisions made by other people at a distance and you only realise you’ve been affected by them when it’s far too late.
Decisions you take now are likely to be right in the short term, wrong in the medium term and of no consequence in the long term. Of course this could all be rubbish. It’s up to you to decide.