Planning is an important aspect of success but your plans should not handcuff you to a particular approach. As you move along a path to a planned objective you can always see things a little clearer than when you started. With this in mind your plans should be fluid, adaptable to what you see as you move through the path to your outcome. Dwight David Eisenhower, the great leader of World War II had this to say about planning the D-Day invasion of Europe:
Plans are nothing; planning is everything.
This doesn’t mean that Ike put no value on the plan it means that he recognized the importance of being able to see the outcome more clearly as you get near to it and being able to maneuver to get to it in the best way.
Keeping Your Plans On Track
It is an often told story that an airplane traveling from New York to Los Angles is off course more than 90% of the time. This is because conditions, like winds, blow the plane off course and the course must be regularly adjusted to bring it back. Yet without a flight plan the plane may not make it to LA at all. The plan must include not only the path to fly but the amount of fuel needed for the trip and a hundred other factors which are all subject to change. Yet without a plan the trip could not take place. All plans must be watched to see if the individual goals that make them up have been achieved. It is said:
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
A truer statement has never been spoken. The origins of the statement are lost to history but Winston Churchill used it during World War II so it seems that the Allied leaders shared a propensity for planning and, after all, things worked out pretty well for the Allies.
The Difference Between A Plan And Goals
Goals are the smaller components that make up the milestones for your plan. A plan is made up of a number of steps, each important, that when combined will lead you to your destination. A plan then is a collection of goals. To make a plan see your starting point and where you want to finish. Then map out the steps that will take you between the two points. Each of these steps is a goal. Eisenhower had many goals that made up the plan for D-Day and to defeat the Nazi’s. The materials and troops had to be assembled, he had to put out false information to not tip his hand to the Germans, and on and on. Many sub goals that made up the master plan.
There is not a better example of planning and the importance of the plan and why it should be fluid than the D-Day invasion. I recommend Stephen Ambrose’s Eisenhower, Soldier And President for more insights into the mind and planning skills of this great man.