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September 2019
David Carry

Why is planning important?

Whether we are seeking wins in sport, business or life, preparation is everything. There are certain eventualities that we can predict and attempt to minimise, but there will always be a few unexpected obstacles along the way that require us to adapt. While we can’t predict every hurdle, we can give ourselves the best possible chance of surviving them by understanding our core values and foundations, and creating a template for success that we can return to at any point.

Planning involves thinking about every single thing that could go right or wrong on the road to our win. Some people will find this tough, as it involves hard work, bravery and discipline, and an occasionally pessimistic outlook. After all, nobody wants to be the negative one in meetings – in fact, many people still think that a ‘winning mentality’ requires endless optimism.

We saw this recently with a client named Shaun. He was a charismatic leader and prided himself on his optimistic outlook. However, he was having an issue with one member of his team. Unlike the other members of the team, Luisa was always very negative in meetings and pulling apart everyone’s strategy proposals - she questioned everything and Shaun could see that she was bringing the mood of the team down.

Planning for the worst case scenario

When Shaun’s quarterly results came in, they were well below what was expected, and the team was shocked – they had never considered that their strategy wouldn’t work. Shaun scheduled a meeting with Luisa to ask her for her input. Luisa repeated the concerns that had been viewed as ‘negative’ in team meetings, and Shaun realised that by planning for these worst case scenarios, Luisa was actually being a responsible team member.

When we plan, we are bracing ourselves for every possible outcome – both good and bad. This may lead to some difficult conversations, but by identifying potential problems early on, we can also figure out how to avoid them. By doing this, we can minimise the risk of an unexpected outcome, and prepare ourselves for an alternative version of our win, if possible.

If Shaun had listened to Luisa in the team meetings, he may have been able to expect the poor quarterly results, reducing the stress caused by the shock of it all. He may have even been able to take earlier action to reverse the quarterly losses, through being more aware of the risks ahead of them. This experience caused Shaun to rethink his management style, and to inspire his team through careful planning, rather than blind optimism.

Minimising risks

Planning helps us to minimise risks, and to reduce the obstacle of fear, so that we can press ahead with minimal disruption. Planning helps to remove the factors in our environment that may hold us back, and it can help us to overcome the fears that can sometimes paralyse us. It can also act as a mechanism to help hold us accountable when times are tough and obstacles get in the way.

Try to view planning as a necessary step on our way to the end win. It is a simple risk management exercise, not a fear-driven ordeal. It involves looking at our timeline, testing the feasibility of our actions, and listing every possible obstacle that could emerge along the way.

Once you can see every potential pitfall written down, you can start planning for the solutions. By doing this, you are effectively troubleshooting your win and making a positive outcome far more likely. Good planning makes every win feel a little closer and a little more possible.

To learn more about how good planning can instil you with confidence and push you closer to your win, pick up our book from