Have a Plan for Everything

Not long ago, I was listening to Richard Pike* talk about his life and the events that unfolded after a horrific road accident left him with life-changing injuries.

It is a profoundly affecting story. Injuries to his lower back changed his future. We listened to how he underwent numerous operations and gradually taught himself to walk again. He had been told that it was unlikely he ever would.
Richard described how he met the challenge of getting through each day. He really caught my attention when he said his approach was to “have a plan for everything”.

Have a plan for what can be anticipated. Have another plan to cope with what was not. Have a plan for when there was success. Have a plan for when there was not. Have a plan for the next hour. Have a plan for the next year. There is considerable common sense in the approach he described.

I came away remembering his determination and his depth of resolve as he met what came at him day by day, even hour by hour! Initially, I found myself resisting the practicality of actually doing this. A few days later I was in conversation with my brother-in-law, one of the clearest thinking people I know. He referred to me a book he had been reading, Elevate – The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking by Rich Horwath, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. © 2014.

I followed up on the author and his Blogs. The more I read, the more the idea to “have a plan for everything” seemed to be worthwhile. One of his mantras is, “Acumen, Allocation, Application – the three strategic disciplines”.

Common sense suggests that to work without a definite plan is nonsense. It seems to me that much unplanned activity in the work place occurs simply because making a plan requires more effort than we are willing to give.

All of this is familiar to most of us. It is actually just common sense. It is easily dismissed because most of us already know it. This punishes us because we do not actually do it.

I suggest that the inherent common sense of planning what we do and how we do it doesn’t usually happen for one key reason: “I am not placing a real value on time”. It is the one essential and irrecoverable resource. It is the common denominator of all we do. No-one has more time each day than anyone else. Time-wasting produces only regret.

Consider this:
1. Setting up a properly thought-through schedule or diary for the coming week. Include everything you will do.
2. Audit your diary/schedule at the end of the week to see how much time you wasted.
3. Audit your week to see how well planned it was.
4. Plan to do it all better next week.

Before you walk away from this, look at the following research presented by The State of Enterprise Work 2014 Report. How much of this can you see in your own week under review?

The question is, “What keeps us from getting things done?”
• 59% of respondents say Wasteful Meetings
• 43% of respondents say Excessive E-mails
• 36% of respondents say Lack of Process
• 35% of respondents say Poor Prioritisation
• 35% of respondents say Excessive Oversight.

In the light of this, to have a plan for everything seems to be considerable common sense.


Pip Masterson


*Richard Pike. CEO of Adcorp Holdings Limited. Author of “Tangled toes, pins & needles” (Photo by Robbie Tshabalala)

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