What if you don’t have a plan?

Authored by George Zack, President Two Harbors Consulting

– As we have set for the question, “can the frameworks you utilize for business process improvement be leveraged for your personal life,” we will now start to explore that in detail.  In this series of posts, I will work through each of the elements of a what the Capability Maturity Model (CMMI) considers a managed or defined process.  The goal of this series is to provoke thought how the elements of such generic practices are not only applicable to business, but can have bearing on your personal life.  By tying these practices to you personally, I believe it will drive a greater understanding in how they are to be applied in the business setting.

In the post, “What’s the plan?,” I discussed how definition of a plan was a key attribute, also called a generic practice, of any process development in both business and in personal endeavors.  I posted this here, as well as on our Two Harbors Facebook and Twitter pages.  There I was asked a very basic but a thoughtful question: “what if you don’t have a plan?”

As I considered this question, I found myself recalling countless scenarios where a person or a team had not adequately planned (or not planned at all), and conversely when such people had also “over-planned.”  Arguably there are circumstances where no plan might be necessary.  In cases where you are not overly concerned about the outcomes, the cost, or the stakeholders input, no plan might be completely acceptable and in fact the preferred option.  It could be argued that such an approach is actually a plan in some regard, which is to say, no plan is to plan after all.

But I’d also think that in cases where you are considering scope and quality, costs and resources, and a schedule, you’d want to have some semblance of a plan.  To illustrate what might happen if you don’t let’s use an example of you hosting a dinner.  If you don’t plan that dinner it would seem one of three things are going to happen.

1.)  You won’t have dinner.
2.)  You will have dinner but it will be more expensive or late or not meeting the expectations of the other people you are hosting dinner for.
3.)  Someone else will manage a plan for getting dinner.

In the case of business or individual development might mean you don’t meet your the goals you set out initially.  Or you might but it might take longer or cost more in terms of actual dollars or personal capital.  Or maybe someone else will manage the plan for you.  I am not stating any one of these is right or wrong, as it would be dependent on the process and its value to you and the other impacted stakeholders.

However, if you want your process to be managed then a plan is expected.  Not all processes have to be managed.  But you might want certain ones that are important to you to be so.  Planning a trip to Europe?  Getting a college degree?  Want to run a marathon?  Want to build a house?  Want to start a business?   Consider the likely outcomes if you have no plan for those events as opposed to having one.