President Eisenhower once remarked “in preparing for battle, plans are useless but planning is indispensable”. I think this a very important quote that many leaders fail to understand and execute against.
President Eisenhower is driving home two really important points that all leaders and executives should understand. First, how a battle develops, is difficult to predict and very difficult to control once you are in them. Marketplaces develop in the same unpredictable ways. A good leader should always aspire to shape the battle or the marketplace to their will. A great leader actually does shape the battle or the marketplace. Bill Gates, President Eisenhower, and Henry Ford all had this ability. So you must plan for the battle beforehand.
The Second Point is that once you are in the battle, your plans cannot be followed lockstep. There is a world of difference between planning and execution. Every great leader plans for the battle, but once the battle starts those plans are merely a framework, a guide, a way of thinking. You cannot be so tied to plan that you fail to react to the changing situation.
The lesson from Eisenhower? Go build your plans. Make sure you do it! But once in the marketplace, you need to adapt, be flexible to the changing conditions, and not rigidly execute against a set plan.
What do you think?
p.s. Make sure you use smart analytics to measure how the battle is going! Don’t drown is a sea of data trying to understand the ever changing situation