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Planning for Moments Vs. Mapping a Strategy

with 5 comments

The 5-year plan is dead. Long live the 5-year direction.

Once upon a time teams of corporate lackeys spent months writing strategies for one-, two-, and five-year plans. They smoked unfiltered Camels and crunched numbers and drank stale coffee to help guess about future sales, using only the flimsiest of data points. They produced thick binders full of prose and charts and graphs and tables of numbers that anticipated revenue and profit. It’s quite possible someone even read those binders. More likely: those in the C-suite who ordered it all just listened to the executive summary and nodded in agreement.

As one does.

Those binders went on to live rich, full lives on sacred shelves. Silently wise and knowing. Until, over time, the strategies gradually got it wrong more often than getting it right (had anyone read them to notice). Predictions have never been a strong suit for ephemeral beings like humans. Especially today when technology seems to refresh every few months—complete with a new set of expectations and parameters. Especially as the economy rises and falls like sea swells.

Where does that leave strategy today? It is impossible to see into the future so we got good at guessing. And we told ourselves to make the future the way we wanted it—as best we can. To step toward the future we’d like and maybe that future will meet us halfway.

Today there are far fewer teams guessing what will happen in five years. But those organizations doing well have taken the forward-looking aspect of planning and planted it as a direction. Given our direction of travel, what moments may arise that we can take advantage of?

Today our smart friends are planning for moments that occur along the path they’ve penciled in. Everything subject to change, of course. But if all goes well: this is where we want to be.

Today we must plan for serendipity.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

April 14, 2014 at 9:29 am

5 Responses

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  1. YES!

    Angie Ward

    April 14, 2014 at 7:46 pm

  2. I love this. I’m very good at my five-year-plan but my five-minute-plan is certainly lacking. Priorities? No, just indecisive and it’s easier to change the five-year than the five-minute.


    April 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    • Our five-year direction needs to feed our five-minute plan, that’s what I’m learning. Thanks for reading.


      April 15, 2014 at 7:06 am

  3. […] Because when you present your bit of inspired copy to a prospective client (as one does when planning for serendipity), they will not see how inspired it is until you tell the problem the copy solved. Once they […]

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