3. Planning is guessing

Jason says: “unless you’re a fortune teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy” and adds that “when you turn guesses into plans, you enter a danger zone”.

So should we call “planning” “guessing”? Sure. At the least it will keep us mindful about impermanence of a plan, while still allowing us to use it and track how well our yesterday’s plans support the decisions that we make today. For example, The Economist annually makes political/economic predictions in their issue called “The World in 2010” or 2009, 2008, etc. In the issue The World in 2010, they have a section where they review their predictions from last year’s issue. It’s a transparent look at how well their predictions fared. It’s a good practice evaluate your predictions (guesses).

That’s all that these predictions should to be – a record of where you thought you thought you would be today so that you can assess your progress. Don’t let yesterday’s plans inhibit where you need to be today. They’re just old. Often you need to adapt and the best way to know how to adapt is by using today’s information, not yesterday’s predictions. 

That said, I will argue that there is a lot of value in the process of planning, specifically in terms of business planning. When you plan you uncover a lot of unknowns about your idea. Being aware of them is very important in understanding your business. Brad Feld elaborates on importance of the process of planning here and here. So use planning as a process of refining your idea/business, rather than a hardwired set of rules for tomorrow’s actions.

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