The No-Plan Plan
  
The No-Plan Plan
A Fabulously Freeing Approach to Strategy, Creativity, Innovation, Business, & Leadership
Published:
1/29/2015
Format:
E-Book (available as PDF files) What's This
ISBN:
978-1-46895-476-0
Are you ready for The No-Plan Plan? • Do you have an automatic, unconscious need to plan in order to feel safe and secure in your life? • Have you ever felt like planning might actually be a stressful waste of your time? • Have you ever heard your inner voice calling you to be more creative or spontaneous? • Have you ever felt that your work was meaningless and that somewhere there is a better "fit" for you–a more authentic alignment of who you are inside with what you do for a living? • Are you willing to share who you are at your core to help others, even if it means you have to be more vulnerable than you have ever been courageous enough to be? If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, then you just might be ready to reclaim the power of your creative spirit through your genuine adoption of The No-Plan Plan in your life and the regular practice of the approaches I share in this book.
Part 1: Our Addiction to Planning "What the Fuck is Wrong with Not Having a Plan?" – God, to the author on December 29, 2010. Chapter 1: Plans are Time-Wasting Exercises in Self- and Group-Delusion Our need to plan everything is a direct result of our fear that we will lose something we have, or more likely a fear we won't get something we want. Planning is a socially-acceptable addiction that makes us feel better by fooling us into thinking we have somehow controlled the unknown future. This false sense of control and security through the numbing process of writing down the imagined incremental steps is a dance with fate. Just like any addict getting a needed fix, we take comfort in the distraction from reality and run from the truth that we can't control how events will unfold. Almost to a person, people initially defend their need to plan with a question beginning with "But how will I/we/you know ______ without a plan?" If the question is just tactical, objective, recipe-like work then you're not talking about the type of plan I'm discussing–you're just talking about a schedule. Most objections to The No-Plan Plan are similar to "But how will I know if I am saving enough to retire if I don't have a plan?" You will never know if you are putting away enough to retire. Your retirement plan is just a false sense of security insulating you from the fear of the future. It doesn't mean you shouldn't do SOME projections, it just means that you shouldn't get too wrapped up in and actually believe what you plan is going to happen as you plan it. Thinking the future will unfold according to your plan is delusional. God laughs at our plans. You might scoff at this and think that I'm standing alone, but you would be wrong. In the January/February 2014 issue of The Harvard Business Review (a publication about as well respected in its industry niche as you can find) Professor Roger L. Martin, co-author of the book Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works states the following points in an article titled The Big Lie of Strategic Planning. • "A detailed plan may be comforting, but it's not strategy." • "All executives know that strategy is important. But almost all also find it scary, because it forces them to confront a future they can only guess at. Worse, actually choosing a strategy entails making decisions that explicitly cut off possibility and options. • "... The plan is typically supported with detailed spreadsheets that project costs and revenue quite far into the future. By the end of the process, everyone feels a lot less scared. This is a truly terrible way to make strategy. It may be an excellent way to cope with the fear of the unknown, but fear and discomfort are an essential part of strategy making. In fact, if you are entirely comfortable with your strategy, there's a strong chance it isn't very good. ... You need to be uncomfortable and apprehensive: True strategy is about placing bets and making hard choices. The objective is not to eliminate risk but to increase the odds of success." • "Mistaking planning for strategy is a common trap." If thought leaders in business recognize planning as simply a way of coping with fear of the unknown, then it might be worth applying this recognition in our personal lives. In our personal pursuits, we confuse purpose with plan. We confuse goals with tasks. As Professor Martin infers, planning is our default approach to dealing with our natural fear of the unknown. Think back to when you were a kid and you were upset about something that might or might not happen in the future. Your parents or teacher probably sat you down and asked you to write down all the things that you thought needed to happen to achieve your goal or avoid the outcome that scared you. That plan made the fear go away for a while because you felt like you had some control. Unfortunately, in spite of our denial (refusal to admit reality because it blows a crater in our comfortable falsehood), the fear came back when the plan started to unravel, as all plans do, and you had to adjust your plan to fit the realities of the current situation and new fears. You entered the cycle of distracting yourself from setting an intention and stepping into faith as a way to face the fear and trapped yourself in the endless busy-work of planning. You are probably still snared in the planning trap most of the time. It's the only "normal" you know. It's the only "normal" we are taught. Our known discomfort of having a plan that doesn't work paradoxically becomes more comfortable than the freedom shimmering just beyond the self-imposed limitations of our plans. You might make your living distracting corporate executives or individual clients from the unavoidable unknown by creating elaborate and well-meaning works of fiction. You write plans for money. We have business plans for executives, financial plans for individuals, estate plans for families, game plans for athletes, birth plans for expectant mothers, education plans for students, enrollment plans for colleges and universities, battle plans for soldiers, emergency plans for first-responders, and community plans for cities. You name it; we have a plan to distract us from the fear of not achieving it. Plans have several common elements: 1. They never work out as expected, and as such are inherently fictional. 2. They are expensive in staff time (usually at the highest-paid levels) and consulting fees. 3. They require vigilant monitoring and updating to keep up the illusion. It takes ongoing investment in the lie to validate and perpetuate the false sense of security that motivated us to create the plan in the first place. We have to keep chasing the planning dragon. 4. They limit our thinking and ability to accept results that are outside the preconceived boundaries of the plan, even if those results may be better than anything we could have ever imagined. 5. They prevent us from taking action toward our intention, allowing us to rationalize procrastination when our plan shows that it is too soon to act, even if reality shifted since we made the plan and the moment is actually perfect for action outside of the plan. Reality Check: Not Another "Planning" Retreat! When your boss calls for another planning retreat, or says that she will be out of the office for three days at a five-star resort for an executive planning retreat, how many people roll their eyes? Admit it, when that happens you know that any time spent actually planning will be a complete waste of time and money. Whatever they come up with isn't going to help anyone really achieve results. If you are invited, you're happy to go through the charade of the planning meetings in order to have a chance to hit the beach, golf course, spa, or bar. The planning retreat may spark a couple ideas relative to a mutually accepted set of intentions, but none of the more concrete elements of the plan have any meaning because everyone knows that circumstances will require "updating" the plan before some, if any, of the interim elements of the plan have a chance to show up outside the planning room. While we enjoy the process sometimes, and it makes us feel better by giving us that false sense of security, we know in our hearts that after we have set our conscious intentions, the plan itself has little relevance and an even slimmer chance of unfolding as we expected. You've likely felt the futility of the planning when your mind wondered to the bar, spa, golf course, or beach while others in your planning group hash out some minutia in your planning document. You know the minutia is just something giving someone who is afraid of a specific future the false sense of security he needs. You know he's just focusing on that minutia so he can feel like he contributed to the plan in a way that will hopefully avoid what he fears and justify the investment his time at the retreat.
Kevin E. Houchin is a respected corporate business development professional, inspired creative business leader, attorney, artist, author, speaker, entrepreneur, mediator, husband, father, and friend. Kevin has shared his personal genius as part of large corporations and small start-ups. He's helped form dozens of companies and helped hundreds of inspired ideas become tangible products and services. He's led creative business workshops and seminars across North America and given motivational keynotes for large and small groups in a wide variety of industries including high-tech, healthcare, higher education, personal services, creative/advertising/branding, information entrepreneurship, publishing, and personal/spiritual development. Outside of his full-time job, Kevin's focuses on his family, his art, and helping other inspired business leaders reach their potential through his keynote speaking, writing, and consulting efforts. Kevin lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife and three children.
 
 


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