MD Forman & Son Lance Forman queries the need to plan


- Credit: Carmen Valino - on shift

America is up in arms about arms. Iranian Shias and Saudi Sunnis are at each others’ throats.

Chinese financial markets are crashing. Oil is in turmoil. Europe is in a migration crisis. Britain is in the thick of historic flooding.

Sounds more like we need a New Year’s revolution to shake this all off, more than a New Year’s resolution.

I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, as I don’t believe in rigorous planning. So much time is spent planning, only for those plans to be overtaken by events.

I lecture occasionally to MBA students at London Business School and what I impress on them is not to focus too heavily on the plan. As one goes through business school and even in business, especially when attempting to raise funds, everyone wants to see the plan. It’s always the plan, the plan, the plan. Yet the business plan is always built on a set of assumptions and whilst it may take into account the risks of external events affecting that plan, it misses the opportunities that such unexpected events throw up.

Focusing on a plan makes it hard to deal with external shocks that had not been planned for. Furthermore, focussing on a narrow path means you miss all the opportunities that abound every day that fall outside that narrow path.

My advice is to know where you want to get to, but allow the journey to flow freely. Have a philosophy and approach to guide you as decisions need to be taken, but don’t be afraid to seize opportunities you had not even dreamt of.

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There is a Yiddish proverb which I love “Mann tracht und gott lacht”, meaning “Man plans and God laughs”.

I always find it helpful to reflect on this.

Best laid plans for 2016? I don’t think so. More from Lance

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