Alan Lakin said, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” This is the essence of why planning ahead matters. Many argue that plans do not normally work especially in this fast-paced world where everything is changing so quickly. Proper plans, however, when they are formulated ahead of time help leaders and organizations to execute projects, reach their goals, and fulfill their vision. The Chinese philosopher, Confucius said, “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” Successful people and organizations are aware of this concept. Those who are successful have planned ahead, finding many benefits, including the following six points.
1. Assessing risks and opportunities
Taking risks is necessary for growth, expanding the comfort zone, and achieving success. Planning ahead gives us confidence to take the risks that others may not take and so it moves us ahead without worrying about competition. Leaders who are not willing to take risks may never fulfill their vision and their success may be short lived. However, if not identified ahead of time through proper planning, taking risks may result in loss and adversity.
By planning ahead, we can identify the associated risks, weigh and categorize them, prioritize and create a response plan. In this way we can transform risks to opportunities and experience the rewards of taking them. Unfortunately, many organizations do not succeed, especially during hard times, because they don’t anticipate risks or, if they do, they do not plan how to respond to them.
Planning ahead helps you and your organization become assertive in taking risks and saying no to either conservative or aggressive approaches.
2. Becoming proactive
Without proper planning we would not be ready to respond to challenges. Hence we become reactive. Planning ahead helps you become proactive. By becoming proactive, you will be able to take the right action in the face of challenge and adversity. As a result, you welcome change because you are ready for any type of challenge. When you are proactive, you respond to situations rather than reacting to them.
3. Improving performance
In his book, Encore Effect, Mark Sanborn noted, “Thorough preparation creates tremendous performances.” In fact, there is a direct correlation between the level of your preparation and the level of your performance. Routine plans and preparation lead to routine performances. Good plans and preparation lead to good performance. Remarkable plans and preparation lead to remarkable performance.
Planning ahead helps to improve your performance and that of your organization. By improving your performance through good planning and preparation, you will be clearer about what to do next. You will also experience less stress, be more productive, provide better service, deliver higher quality products, create a more joyful environment to work in, and become a more effective and influential leader.
4. Enough time to develop teams
Team development is vital to success, projects, and the organization as a whole. Teams suffer without plans. Unfortunately, many organizations do not plan for team development. After a while, teams experience internal and external conflict, which results in confusion, low productivity, less creativity, dissociation and failure. By planning ahead, you and the team leaders in your organization will have enough time to develop your teams. When the right plan is designed for the right team, assigning tasks to the team members can be done quickly and confidently.
5. Time for revising and updating the plan
Effective plans are revised and updated regularly. In fact, our original plans can and should evolve over time so we can stay on the right track and get to the destination. By planning ahead we give ourselves time to revise our plans based on updated information on risk, quality, resources, stakeholders, assumptions, and constraints.
By planning ahead we plan for success. As explained earlier, remarkable plans lead to remarkable performances, which lead to remarkable rewards. Therefore, spending enough time in making remarkable plans and preparing for a remarkable performance will pay off with extraordinary rewards.
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Kamran Akbarzadeh, PhD
Founder of Dream Achievers Academy