In Preparing For Battle I Have Always Found That Plans Are Useless, But Planning Is Indispensable
- Dwight Eisenhower
Since we are discussing the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, it's appropriate to share one of his most famous quotes. The irony here is that in the blog post earlier I am telling you that you need to spend more time in Quadrant 2 (Planning), yet now I am posting a quote that says the plan is useless, what gives?
Well what gives is that the action of planning is where the real pay-dirt is. To paraphrase another military general (Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke): "No Plan Survives First Contact." This statement is true, because no matter how well planned, situations change and things will not always go according to plan. As such, a leader needs to understand that plans cannot be final. While planning, (s)he should consider contingencies and "what if" scenarios during planning. Having these contingencies ready when the plan changes will make the team successful, and why planning is indispensable.
When working in project management we call it Risk Mitigation. A significant portion of planning is the detailing of Risk into a matrix which shows the impacts of an event happening, and then details out how the risks will be addressed if the event occurs. I may share the techniques in a future blog post, as it's important to know how to do this during planning of complex projects which could have serious and (sometimes) dramatic consequences if something goes wrong.
As a note, what you are seeing here is a picture I took from the back of a M113 in Kuwait as soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division are about to be briefed on the plan to cross into Iraq and convoy to Baqu'bah in 2003.