How Important is Planning to Success, Really?

By Graeme Cotton

We have all heard the adage that failing to plan is planning to fail. Is this true? Do we spend too much time on planning? Scrum co-creator Ken Schwaber has said that the reason for him creating the Scrum concept was the number of times project teams used a Gantt chart in an effort to ensure the project ran on time and to budget, only for 100% of them to fail to achieve the majority of these targets.

With businesses making decisions every day based upon their plans and investors investing in companies based upon those companies’ plans, surely there is no doubt that planning is a crucial element to their success? Strategic planning is a requirement for the world of business, never more so than now with a rapidly changing global landscape and a political world full of indecision. The real question is: how well do we really do it? Are we just like the project teams Schwaber described, accepting our failure in not meeting all of our aims or merely applying a guide to keeping us on track?

A successful organisation needs to align the minds of the organisation, extracting creativity and challenging conventions. In this way, the organisation can be opened up to a new rationale, ascertain its goals, and get everyone on board to aim for those goals – or, rather, achieve those goals.

The key might lie in having more fluid planning with the ability to adjust quickly. However, this is quite a change from common practices and requires considerable effort in addressing not only the social elements within an organisation, such as culture, but also the commercial and technical aspects. Where needed, training should be given to staff in order to help them to adjust and accommodate this shift in thinking. Even budgets may need to be revised more often than the traditional 1 or 5 year guides.

An example of these challenges lies within the New South Wales local government sector, where Councils are having to look at how their organisations operate. Many are facing amalgamations with neighbouring Councils, with a number of concerns regarding how to plan for such a major project. LKS Quaero is working with many Councils as we try and tackle this challenge together, including through the development of an Amalgamation Good Practice Guide.

How would you tackle these major planning challenges?

At LKS Quaero, we offer an integrated suite of services, including assistance with strategic planning and amalgamation planning. If you’d like to know more, visit us at or follow us on  LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.