Is planning a useless activity?
What a strange question? After all, everybody knows and believes that ‘planning‘ is a good thing and it must be useful. Having thought about things people say and what they do, I have to say that overall it is a useless activity.
Should I say, “Don’t get me wrong…. “? Okay – I’ll say it! Don’t get me wrong, there are some people who do their planning very well, and they get good results. Sure – people need to plan, if they’re moving home, cleaning the house, buying a dog, taking some journey, or going food-shopping etc. Ahhh.. but food-shopping – loadsah people make lists but end up buying tons of stuff that’s not on their list. Jeez.. do I need to be told, “I just couldn’t leave the deal I saw!“? I do not!
But I’m looking at the big picture as seen through my eyes, with all its biases. I see people making loads of plans but I do not see them getting results. So what is ‘planning‘? I usually start by defining what I think it is. I think planning is a sequence of actions generated by conscious cognitive effort to create plans. A plan is a record of actions that could be taken. Planning is not ‘the record’. Planning is the process of generating plans and working out their execution. Google addicts may jump on the net and find some better ideas. I simply do NOT CARE! I decide what I think – not some guru out there!
There are all sorts of plans. Tough – I don’t do tutorials. So don’t expect a list of the types of plans there are in the world. My focus is on the utility of plans, for people in general. Importantly a plan is about actions to be taken. ‘Action’ becomes the big issue. One could engage in planning by various methods, generate excellent plans for a range of things – but then fail to act. How useful is that? Like not! I’m not here to go on about how good or bad peoples’ plans are.’
You’ have plans to de-junk the house, clean the car, pay bills, walk the dogs? Forget about it. You’re most unlikely to do any of these in a timely way! You’re better at planning plausible excuses! How arrogant – me telling people what they will and won’t do. Call me names – I’ve seen too much of the reality of failed execution of plans.
People like ‘planning’ and making ‘plans’ because it makes them feel good or better. At least they an say to themselves and their friends or loved ones, “I have a plan!“. They’ll share their plans with close others or the world (like on Facebook), and receive lots of approval etc – yuh know – like thumbs ups, and told “You go girl!” Then people say to themselves, “A plan is better than no plan.” Yeah – like ‘some air’ is better than no air. I dealt with this under the Fallacy of Relative Privation.
A lot of plans that people do, are not well structured. This is because people think that ‘plan’ equals planning. It doesn’t. Any fool can draw up a list of actions they would take. But planning is more. It is about:
- What would trigger items in the plan.
- When might items in the plan be executed. (To be clear, I am not talking about executing anybody!).
- How would the items on the plan be done.
- Creating degrees of responsivity, receptivity and flexibility.
So – I see planning as more than the simple generation of ‘a plan’. And that is where it falls down. One can easily assume that because a plan looks good that it is good. I disagree. A plan is useless if planning for its implementation is not worked out carefully. Implementation is not just ‘the action’ but how the action would would be carried out.
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