Adapting to circumstances matters more than following a plan. Don’t stress if your resolutions or plans need to change when your priorities change.
Cleaning up my office for the new year, I found the plans for the year that I wrote carefully in January 2017. I had delivered on much of the plan, but a great deal of the great ideas went undelivered. Largely, I had pursued the parts of the plans that were about how I positioned myself and Change Agents Worldwide, how I developed a few new areas of work and how I made new relationships. The products I intended to build and some of the events I planned to create did not materialise.
Would it have been good to deliver those new products and events? Yes. Was it an accident or an oversight that they weren’t delivered? No, they actually sat on my to do list right through to the end of the year. They didn’t get done because the time I planned to allocate to them was taken up by new challenges and new work that was far more important to my purpose and long term plans. The work that I did do on my plan for 2017 created better opportunities than I expected and I changed my priorities. Managing priorities is by far the most valuable way to manage your work.
The opportunities that arose for me in 2017 that were unplanned were all meaningful steps forward like contributing to a Social Business book, helping launch Jen Frahm’s Conversations of Change, building a new consulting and speaking focus on the future of HR, working on a number of agile projects, becoming a Yammer Adoption Specialist, becoming a Workplace by Facebook partner, speaking at Microsoft Ignite again, joining Lantern Pay as Head of Markets and becoming a non-executive director at Bank First. In the latter case it achieved a personal goal I had set for years hence. Everyone of those outcomes came about because I kept engaging my networks and followed the opportunities that the network delivered. I kept my eyes open for new opportunities that were higher priorities than those I had planned.
So as I start the process of planning 2018, I know that my plan will change. What matters most is using the planning process to be clear on my understanding of:
- my purpose;
- my priorities;
- how my networks can help; and
- how to advance my goals.
The actions I set will be the first draft. What happens in 2018 will depend on how I use those four to adapt my plans. Where I end up depends on my continuous process of adaptation, the opportunities and challenges that arise and the actions of others.
The tactical result of an engagement forms the base for new strategic decisions because victory or defeat in a battle changes the situation to such a degree that no human acumen is able to see beyond the first battle. In this sense one should understand Napoleon’s saying: “I have never had a plan of operations.”
Therefore no plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force. – Helmuth von Moltke the Elder