Why Do We Sometimes Fail to Plan?

What makes us as innovative business leaders not want to plan something in writing?  We created what might be a big idea in our head and we continue to dream and think about it. The big idea is comfortable in our head. If we put our idea on paper, then we and others can criticize, analyze, and reduce it to a smaller or even a bad idea.  If it stays in our head, it keeps us in a happy dream state where no one can touch it, let alone understand or analyze it. 

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Sometimes we convince ourselves that we are too busy to write the idea down. Maybe if we keep talking to others we can get someone else or even pay someone to write our big idea down for us. Then they can subject themselves to the questions, analysis, possible criticism or even the praise that follows.

Some of us think that there is a right way and a wrong way to write a simple business plan for a potentially great idea. What should be included? What if I am wrong? What is the format? Will not the plan be obsolete as soon as I write it down?

There is also fear. Fear of being wrong. Fear of criticism from coming up with a bad idea that you once thought was great. Maybe even a fear of commitment. Fear that once the idea takes a written form that it will no longer be as good as it did when it was only in your head.

How long do you want your big business idea to stay in a dream state? For some of us, as long we can because it is a comfortable, cushy, and happy place. Most of us eventually want to move on and see if our big idea has any merit. Ultimately the business person within you realizes that the time has come to take our head out of the clouds, bring our business dream gently down to earth and see if we can make that dream a business reality.

Let’s address the concerns that we often hear in our own head. Yes, our plan for our big idea might be wrong to some degree and yes the plan should in fairness subjective itself to analysis, review, and criticism. But the criticism should be constructive if we approach the right people. This constructive criticism can make a good idea even better.

If you delegate or hire someone to write the big idea down for you, then you will lose some time. It takes time to communicate to someone else what is in your head. Plus, the real value of the planning process comes from the writing that clarifies the thoughts in your head through clearer words, illustrations, pictures, and numbers.

People often ask me for examples of business plans. “Do you have a business plan example?” they ask. It is not the right question. While examples can be useful, the business planning process itself is far more important than the format chosen for the business plan.  The process of writing, rewriting, rethinking, and the dialogue with people, particularly with customers, makes the written business planning process especially valuable.

Speaking of examples, we often compare business planning to a road map. This can be both a good and a bad comparison. The good part is that we have a guided path to follow with a map. However, in business planning the business terrain represented by the map changes, it is part of the process with which we need to accept and become more comfortable.  In extreme cases the business plan might be obsolete once we write it down, but most plans simply need a little tweaking to get our map and us back on track. There is something powerful in wring a plan down on paper. It makes us commit to the idea, the plan, and the process that focuses us while often melting our fears away.

How about you? What prevents you from putting more of your plans in writing? Feel free to share them in the comments section. I for one will enjoy reading them.

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