• rhmkrete

Is 'planning' the road to success?

'What's the planning?' seems to be the holy trail for 'the manager'. Without a planning he's lost. The employee wouldn't know where he's going without a detailed planning. Because planning provides direction, an aim, an objective, leads to a goal, a target, and not to forget, it generates deadlines (I still remember the magic sound when they flew by!).


Well, over the years I started to think differently. It's a management tool and I really doubt how effective this tool is. Intrinsically motivated people (see my book #safetyfromwithin) do map out the steps they want to take to get somewhere. And very likely they have a timeframe to get there as well. However when it is applied as a management tool, and laid upon them, I rather consider it these days as a lack of trust and it reduces psychological safety. A tool for 'whacking-a-mole' for not performing.

Nassim Talib wrote: "Everything that is laid down in plans generally fails, it is a myth that planning helps companies. We have seen that the world is too arbitrary and too unpredictable to base policy on visions of the future. That which survives survives thanks to the interaction between adaptability and environmental factors". And "There is no evidence that strategic planning works. There are even indications that it does not work. Superstitious nonsense", he writes.

Talib is also the author of 'The Black Swan', and has proven to be right and that these 'coloured swans' have a great effect on (not) realising a detailed planning.


I would opt for a sense of direction mainly mapped out by the people responsible for reaching the targets and to be mild on the adjustments on the way. If people are empowered this way they will pay back your trust. Whacking-the-mole for not delivering a planning that was etched in stone but was hindered by many unknowns, coloured swans, unforeseen and unexpected situations, kills motivation, trust and psychological safety.


Society and business interaction and activities are far away from a straight and linear set of actions that can be put next to each other to reach a target. Trust and support your employees to make it happen and you will be surprised.


© 2020 Rob Kreté, Veiligheid van Binnenuit | Illustraties Tom van Dun, infocomics.nl