Towards the end of last year my Dad asked me what he thought I might try and do with the business in 2012. I told him ‘I want to work in America’. ‘How you gonna make that happen son?’ he asked. ‘I dunno yet’ I replied, ‘I just will’.
I turned on my radar and courtesy of Mike VanderVort I spotted an opportunity to submit a pitch to speak at the Florida State HR Conference. I also recalled a brief Facebook exchange with William Tincup about guitars and America, and I had a quick exchange with Steve Browne about maybe doing something down Ohio way. Then Dad died and things went a bit off track for a while. In due course I made my pitch to Florida, thought a little more about what William had said and kept in touch with Steve.
Florida didn’t happen this time. I’ve no idea why – I asked for feedback and got a rather bland ‘Dear John’ type reply. I’ll maybe have another try next year. Ohio is gonna happen and as you all know I’m really excited about that. And other US plans are forming as I write (watch this space).
Well I could have burned a pile of money and time coming up with a strategic plan on how to do cool stuff in America, and I’m glad I didn’t. I can’t predict the future so at the time of planning I couldn’t have known Dad was going to die, I couldn’t have known that a timely exchange between Steve and I would have developed further. I couldn’t have known a whole bunch of stuff. But if I had invested in a plan, I’d have felt the need to stick with it and justify the time and money invested. Strategic planning drives convergent, fixed thinking. Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant write beautifully about this in their book Humanize which I recommend if you want to go deeper into the pointlessness of strategic planning (and many other interesting things too).
Me? I just had a goal, an ambition. My response to Dad was honest, I had no idea how I would achieve the goal, I just knew it was achievable and if I wanted it bad enough it would happen.
Set Goals. Have Ambitions. Do Stuff. Be Agile.
Follow your dreams. Life is too short for strategic planning.
With thanks to Sukh Pabial, David Goddin and Jonathan Wilson for a provocative conversation on Twitter that got me to writing this.