Here’s a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower that recently caught my attention:
“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
I hope never to be involved in any way in an actual battle, but there are lots of experiences that I have had or will have that share characteristics with a battle, so I’m working to get as much sense out of this idea as I can. Let’s take it apart together.
Battles are generally unpredictable, which would explain why a plan might not stay relevant. So if we set the actual plan aside, what is it about planning that can be valuable?
I guess having thought through various scenarios gets you in the neighborhood of the relevant concepts and contingencies, so your reaction times might be shorter when in the thick of things.
Having done some planning might also provide you with confidence. Without planning, the mind might easily hare off in a panic, but if you’ve been at work on the problem, it would have a steadying influence, and would tend to help you reassure yourself.
We ought also to acknowledge that planning can sometimes be an effective diversion, a way of postponing actual doing. Let’s just go over this bit again, to make sure we’re clear on the details. And what about this other bit here? That’s going to take some sorting out, no question. We can’t go off half-cocked!
But returning to Eisenhower’s idea that planning is indispensable, what do you think? Setting aside an actual plan, what does the process of planning do to improve matters for you?
[Image: Wikimedia Commons]