Sometimes I’m convinced that the most successful businesses have no idea what they’re doing. Oh sure, if you asked an executive about their strategy, he or she would probably give you whatever is in their planning document verbatim, but I think that’s crap. I think they’re telling you what they believe to be the truth but in fact may only be accurate in their minds for that moment. Instead, I think the most successful companies are masters of dealing with the utter chaos of the business world and not being too anchored to any one detail of a plan. Yes, planning is important, but so is reality, and that often means dealing with something for which we had no plan. So why bother planning?
We plan because we can’t wander around aimlessly. Even on an unstructured vacation, you probably want to have some idea as to the climate so you bring the right clothes and have some notion of where you’re going so you’ve got the right documents and shots. A business plan is an important baseline against which we can measure how we’re doing and correct our direction if it’s off. It’s can’t be a straightjacket, however. That’s how we miss opportunities and why I think the fuzzy logic analogy is apt:
Fuzzy logic is a form of many-valued logic; it deals with reasoning that is approximate rather than fixed and exact. In contrast with traditional logic theory, where binary sets have two-valued logic: true or false, fuzzy logic variables may have a truth value that ranges in degree between 0 and 1. Fuzzy logic has been extended to handle the concept of partial truth, where the truth value may range between completely true and completely false.
That’s much closer to the business reality I know. Analysis going in is great but on-going measurement and adjustment is way more important. There’s a usually a chance we’re misreading the tea leaves going into a situation; the truth is generally move available in retrospect (hindsight is 20/20, after all!). Plan, do, analyze, adjust, rinse, repeat. Not once a year, either. And don’t get too hung up if something fails – that’s how we learn how reality is aligned with our strategy and what needs adjusting. Embrace chaos: there’s opportunity within!