Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists

Events

How the 'Perfect Plan' can lead you to Disaster

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Today I have a bee in my bonnet, so please look away if my frankness might bother you. In the last couple of days I've had yet another conversation with a Local Council planning team manager about Strategic Planning for their Council that bothered me a great deal. What really has me bothered is that the conversation indicated that the reason that this particular Council had not managed to achieve its outcomes was the belief that their previous plans were not perfect. This is NOT the first time a similar suggestion from a Local Council has been offered.

And yet nothing could be further from the truth. The rationale that 'lack of planning perfection' could be the cause of inaction is based on the unfounded truism that it is better to do nothing, than to do something poorly. But this 'cause-effect' approach (non perfection = poor outcome) is not how reality works, because reality shows that NO PLAN IS PERFECT.

Where planning processes often fall down is NOT from the starting position of 'imperfection' but from the unfounded belief that once you've got things perfect at the start, you can forget to monitor your progress or the need to build in the capacity to adapt and change. And that IS where planning breaks down. The annual, biennial, or triennial planning programs that ignore the need to pay attention to progress are the barriers to achievement - not 'imperfection'. There is NOT a single Local Council in Australia that does not have the capacity to achieve most of what it wants to achieve. 

Plans should, nay MUST highlight the core starting assumptions upon which a strategic decision is made. Indicators of likely progress or non prgress ought to be considered in advance as clues. But can we please stop aiming for the perfect planning outcome. Assumptions; Adaptation; Attention - these are the things that matter greatly in planning your future. If you want to get it right then a 'Triple A' approach will take you a very long way indeed. Perfection on the hand, will likely get you no where  slowly or by lulling you in to doing nothing, land you at Disaster central quickly.


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