That supreme cynic, Woody Allen, said: "If you want to make God laugh, show him your plans" and Vistage speaker and former top CIA executive, Herb Meyer, would say: "No plan can survive its collision with reality".
Cynical or pragmatic? Possibly both, but to counter them, Jim Slater, who was a great name in the 1970s when building his Slater Walker business empire, opined that he was more successful than others simply because he knew where he was going and had a very precise vision of the future.
I believe that Herb's view is essentially pragmatic in that there is no sense in stubbornly going for an objective when circumstances have changed to the extent that the objective is no longer viable. Plans are there to assist the leader to achieve and can never be set in concrete.
It often surprises me however, when in mentoring mode, that many of my clients have at best only a vague idea of what they want and where they and their companies are going. Even more curious, there are cases where the business owner is reaching, to be kind, maturity and has no idea of what he/she will need to do in order to exit the business.
Most really successful athletes have an absolute vision of where they are going. They can visualise success, how it looks, how it feels, and what it will mean to them when it has been achieved. If only more business leaders could have the same, almost blinkered, vision there is no doubt that there would be much more visible success.
If people in business need to know "how am I doing and where are WE going?", how much more does kit apply to the leader if only to be able to answer these questions with absolute certainty and confidence.
A final quote, this time from Theodore Levitt, formerly Professor of Marketing at Harvard who said: "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there". Now there's a thought.
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