Skip to content

Planning vs Pathfinding

A detailed plan is useful when you know what you’re doing: when you (or others) have done the thing, or when you’ve been somewhere before. If you know where to go and how to get there a map saves a great deal of time and energy.

But detailed planning is less useful when you don’t know the way: when you’re doing something new, or you’re not even sure where you’re going, or even if the context has changed enough. In cases like this you need to travel equipped with resources and contingency plans. You need to stay alert and responsive to your environment, ask lots of questions, and prepared to change course. In these cases you’ll need a compass to show you the way, but you’ll be making your own path as you go along.

The majority of our most important journeys are more like the second kind.

Use a map where one is available, but don’t be surprised if there isn’t one.

See also:

Build, Measure Learn
The Toolkit – Part 0: Action. Now (4) – Action as idea filter
Steve Blank: the definition of a startup

1 thought on “Planning vs Pathfinding”

  1. I love this. Am finding how many strategic priorities have emerged over the year that weren’t planned. Easy with hindsight, and often I read books that make out that a plan was followed and yet it’s only looking back that it seems that way. In reality, may great things happen through pathfinding. Both important of course. Thanks Stu!

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...