The World Doesn’t Always Comply

My friends, one of the fundamental problems with planning is that the world has a different idea about how things are going to happen. Your assumptions, visualizations, projections, forecasts, and suppositions turn out to be wrong.

Get over it.

If the world always complied with your expectations, this would be a highly predictable, vanilla, and boring place. People don’t respond as expected, the environment undergoes radical change, group dynamics reverse course, your supporters really aren’t, you get rained out. Stuff happens.

I’m bemused by people who claim “genius” for themselves when they’ve had the good fortune to profit from a few lucky “hits” with clients who, in turn, recommended them elsewhere. Or those who are mediocre but are elevated by a strong, rising economic tide.

But when things go south, where are they? If they haven’t marketed themselves and don’t know how, where is that “genius” now? If tougher times decrease demand and only the top talent is pursued, where is the “genius” then?

We should all hope for the best but prepare for the worst. True talent is able to excel in all economies, in a multitude of environments, and with a great diversity of people. It’s not hard to sell hot dogs on the route of the great parade, but the real question is how many you can sell during the other 364 days of the year. It’s nice to find a $100 bill on the sidewalk, but I wouldn’t advise that method as a daily pursuit to feed the family.

By all means, make assumptions about the future and act upon them. But also be prepared to anticipate and handle deviations from the path. You may have an uncanny view of what the future holds.

But the world doesn’t always comply.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

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One Response to The World Doesn’t Always Comply

  1. ed.kless says:

    Alan,

    As always, terrific post. I teach a project management class where during the section on planning, I quote General Eisenhower, “Planning is essential, plans are worthless.”

    It is the thought process behind planning where the value is, once you begin to implement it is all about how well you adjust to the changes from the plan, not how far you deviate from it.

    I have heard it said that 90 percent of D-Day did not go according to plan, yet Ike and soliders under his command achieved 90 percent of the objectives!

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