Any Road Will Take You There

Any Road Will Take You There September 14, 2010

I spent a good part of my career as a strategy consultant, and a favorite quote I liked to use was,  

            “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

That stopped most executives dead in their tracks, with their heads bobbing in worried agreement. Seriously, how can you expect to make progress and grow your company if you don’t have an intentional, well-defined plan that tells exactly how you will get from A to B?  Come on people, bring out the flip charts and let’s define B.

This advice was fine to administer while I was in the consulting business, but now that I work in a real company, I have a new favorite quote:

            “Plans are useless, but planning is priceless.”

It’s not that we don’t plan, we do. But we also acknowledge that things happen beyond our control – markets change, new competitors emerge, breakthrough technologies take hold, the economy goes down the toilet. Things happen. And your roadmap gets tossed right out the bathroom window.

We recognize that it is equally important to be good at sensing and responding to the changes happening around us.

This real-time mode of living is shrouded with mystery and unpredictability. Heck, sometimes we can’t even precisely define B. It’s all blurs and hunches and shadowy outlines, and maybe it feels more like we are being taken somewhere, rather than having it all mapped out. It’s like a bigger purpose is moving in our lives, and we are riding the invisible momentum of a wave propelling us to some future destiny. We are sensing. Watching. Responding.

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