Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Results Count More Than The Process

A little while ago, I talked about the four basic pillars of management, which are Planning, Organizing, Directing, and Monitoring. Each of these aspects of management are very important; however, it is all too easy to get hung up on planning. While it is important to plan, unless you get beyond planning you will not accomplish anything. Analysis paralysis. Sometimes we get so involved in our planning we aren’t nearly as efficient as we could be. Planning is very important and is probably the most overlooked part of business. We must remember, however, planning has its limits. Those limits should be dictated by the risks involved.

Important but not the end goal

Things like sending a manned spaceship to the moon, open-heart surgery or a bid for the office of president of the United States all have greater risks than throwing a weekend barbecue for friends. To send someone to the moon, the planning by necessity would be extensive because the risk is very high. A weekend barbecue for friends, on the other hand, isn’t such a big deal and doesn’t require nearly as much planning. Sure, you need to make sure everyone has enough to eat but the weekend barbecue isn’t rocket science.

Truthfully, planning is the step you take to ensure success in what you are doing. It certainly is not the goal itself. Many managers shortcut the planning stage because they do not think they have time. This is a big mistake. A bigger mistake is over-planning. I remember early in my college career, a few friends and I decided we were going to open a nightclub. We planned and planned and planned. You know what? We never got out of the planning stage. We had big dreams but never saw success because the planning stage became the purpose of everything we did.

If you’re someone who tends to over-plan because you don’t know when to stop, change your focus to the risk level. Make the plan good. Make them good enough but do not worry about making the plans perfect.

Sometimes people continue to plan because they are afraid of the next step. They know if they finish planning then they have to do something. To avoid that, they add more details. They revise and update the plan. Soon, the planning process becomes an exercise in thinking about doing something. They never do anything because they are always planning. Dragging out the planning process allows for outside forces to make decisions, leaves the manager in a reactive state rather than taking proactive action. Truly, this makes for some of the worst possible solutions.

Implement the Plan, Git ‘er Done!

As manager, our responsibility is to get things done. Avoid “analysis paralysis”. Do the planning but don't allow that preparation stage to get in the way of the doing stage. Get the job done.