Lie 2: The Best Plan Wins…

This is a video excerpt from The Freethinking Leader Coalition, unpacking the second lie in Marcus and Ashley’s upcoming book, Nine Lies about Work. To view the full video, read book excerpts, and participate in a live event for each lie, join here by ordering the book. To learn more about The Freethinking Leader Coalition, click here.

There’s something wonderful about plans, isn’t there? We love to get plans, to know our place in them, and to watch the entire thing come perfectly to fruition. Plans – and watching them unfold – are beautiful.

In the business world, we’re always planning. It usually starts in September, when the senior leadership team goes off on a retreat and puts together a strategic plan that will (more often than not) have “2020” in it. Once that’s presented to the board, it’s broken down into a plethora of smaller, departmental plans. It continues downwards into sub-plans until you, the team leader, finally receive your plan – which supposedly fits in with everyone else’s plans. The deep belief of companies and organizations is that the best plan wins. If we can just think of all the variables at play, perfectly circumscribe each department and team leader’s role within it, we will bring order to the chaos of the world. We look at plans as scaffolding, upon which we can build our futures.

The problem, of course, is that the best plan doesn’t win. By their very nature, plans cause us to retreat from the real world to examine all the various variables that are at play within them. If your plans are too simplistic, it’s merely a bunch of generalities. But the more detailed your plan is, the longer it takes to put it together, and the more irrelevant it is.

If there’s one feature about the world of work that we can all agree on, it’s that things are moving really quickly. Therefore, the plan that you painstakingly put together in September and October is irrelevant by the events that transpire in November. Plans help us scope our problems, but they don't offer any solutions. Click To Tweet

Plans are not useless; they help you scope current problems. But they don’t help you with any solutions. Plans help us engage with a recent past, rather than help us create a better future. And that’s something. But it’s not everything.

If we are going to build organizations, companies, and teams that are going to build a better future, we can’t rely on plans to provide our solutions. Plans are a rear-view mirror to our problems, but we need a different system entirely to help us create the solutions. If we are going to build organizations, companies, and teams that are going to build a better future, we can’t rely on plans to provide our solutions. Click To Tweet

To learn the truth, join the Freethinking Leader Coalition.


One Comment

  1. Marc March 27, 2020 at 12:37 PM - Reply

    Hello Marcus, Thank you very much for sharing with us.

    I am Marc from Omaha Nebraska. As you discuss Lie 2 here, I do not see a solution to replace the “Plan”. Maybe this is in another context, but as I am trying to figure out my strengths and head towards the goal of having a truly satisfying career, I feel I need a “plan” to achieve that goal. Is there another term or process we should use as we move forward?

    Thank you again!

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