Strategy (6): Strategy and intentions

This is the sixth post in a series – start here.

Definition of Strategy (as a skill or activity):

Strategy is the practice of making, implementing and reviewing big-picture plans (strategies) with the intention of increasing the chances or speed at which you’ll achieve your major goals.

Good intentions

Strategic plans are usually based on what things are like now, and on changes we can foresee based on the trends of the moment.

Strategies rarely play out as planned for several reasons:

  • The further into the future we plan for, the more unforeseen factors (new technologies, economic crises, departures and deaths, global pandemics) there will be to disrupt our plans. Many of our plans are based on (if we’re honest) guesses, and at a certain distance the costs of planning (in time, effort, resources misdirected by wrong decisions) start to outweigh its benefits. Some say this distance is as little as six months.
  • No plan survives contact with the enemy. Many plans become out of date as soon as anything significant happens.
  • Our plans and intentions are consistently over optimistic (The Planning Fallacy).
  • Planning makes doing easier, but is still much easier than doing. Our intentions don’t mean anything if we don’t find ways to make things happen and get things done – to execute our plans. The execution gap is a real problem.

And yet

So we attempt to plan thoroughly and execute ruthlessly… while holding our plans lightly and remaining flexible and cheerfully in the face of their inevitable partial failure – at best.

Despite its shortcomings, strategic planning is better than the alternative.

Plans are worthless, but planning is indispensable.

Dwight D Eisenhower (sort of)

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