They seem like opposites. Zen’s about mindful acceptance of the present moment. Planning is about the future. Seems like Zen business planning is oxymoronic. I hope not.
Why do you care? That’s a good question. You care because business planning makes you and your business better, but it’s subject to a lot of business plan bashing lately. People who confuse the plan (ugh, big document, hard, formal, not necessary) with planning (focus, prioritizing, envisioning the future, setting directions, dealing with change, managing).
But then, if you don’t care, sorry, just overlook this post.
Why do I care? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the ex-hippy factor, makes me respect Zen. Maybe it’s the coolness factor, like I posted recently, Zen and the Art of Copying. Guy Kawasaki has a post called the Zen of Business Planning; and it’s a good post. Good stuff on business planning. Maybe it’s Gil Fronsdal, and his zencast.org podcasts, which I listen to frequently.
Maybe it’s my new book, The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan, which deals with (among other things) some zen-like contradictions and paradox built into real business planning. Your business plan is always wrong, but vital. A good business plan is never done. Consistency is critical except when it isn’t. Plan for change. Do what you use, do what you need, no more. The plan is what you want to happen, not the document, not the presentation. And so forth.
Here’s a problem: I say often, in my books, in my presentations, that business planning is about controlling your destiny. Influencing your future. Zen, on the other hand, is about acceptance, not control. Damn. There we go again, oxymoronic, contradictory, but hey, maybe that’s what makes this topic interesting.
- Change is constant.
- Your plan will be wrong. Every plan is wrong.
- Planning is a process of accepting change as constant and your plan as wrong.
- Planning is about movement, change, and direction.
- Accept change as constant.
- Understand what direction you want to move.
- Good planning gives you clear vision of how where you are is different from where you thought you’d be.
- Good planning is constant course correction, balanced between what you thought would happen and what actually happened and what you think should happen next. It’s an accumulation of knowledge points, each one where we are now, why we aren’t where we thought we’d be, and where we go next. That keeps long-term direction in mind while dealing with short-term present moment.
(Note: I posted on this last week on Planning Startups Stories. I’m reposting it here for reader’s convenience.)