The ‘laws’ of planning - Strategic Management

Years ago I defined two laws of planning, which all written plans seemed to follow. They are as noticeable in project plans supporting requests for capital expenditure as they are in strategic plans.

  1. In any written plan, everything comes right in the third year. This does not mean that it will come right, only that the plan says it will. The third year is close enough to appear to have meaning but far enough away to escape retribution. The underlying psychology is that three years is long enough for things to work out.
  2. The third year never comes. My second law of planning is that the bounty of the third year is never delivered. Somehow the cornucopia expected three years ago when the plan was made is as empty in the third year as it was in the first two. Of course, things can come to pass as the plan suggests. However, knowing that so many plans show two lean years followed by a time of plenty makes me want to probe very deeply into any plans which follow this pattern. This usually means exploring the information on which the plan was based, as well as studying the strategy itself.

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