We make plans built on poor information and best guesses using techniques that are poorly streamlined and hopefully good enough to reach goals that we think might do. When we rigidly stick to these plans we are dooming ourselves to a poor outcome. Flexibility is the key to being able to evolve our dynamic plan as we go for better outcomes.
First, recognise that there is a hell of a lot you don’t know.
It is okay to be ignorant – no one knows everything.
Ignorance comes in several flavours –
Known unknowns – what you do know that you don’t know. Often it is worth pursuing more information about these before making your plan. However sometimes the resources to do this are beyond your current ability, so make a good enough guess to get moving and update later as greater information becomes known. Check out the section below “Uncertainty”.
Unknown unknowns – what you don’t know that you don’t know. This is much harder as there will become holes in your plan and knowledge that you become aware of later. If you weren’t prepared for the likelihood that there were unknown unknowns this hole may blindside you, taking you longer to recover and adapt.
Knowing that you are ignorant is a first step to allowing new information in. Denial of one’s own ignorance is a quick way to keep bullying ahead into disaster.
Next, accept that most of what you do know you will find out later is wrong.
Some of this error will be 100% wrong. We thought black was white and white was black. Most of the time the error will be only partial – it turns out what we thought was black was mostly just dark grey.
Complete errors will usually require a larger update to the plan, while partial errors will require a smaller adaptation.
We can identify things that we have a high confidence is correct and things that we have a lower confidence with. Using this, we can begin to construct our plan, leaning mostly on the things we are more confident with. Critical phases of the plan need to have confidence, so that may require investigating low confidence things in critical places to gain more knowledge and certainty.
It is inevitable that you cannot know all the things you need to know to make a concrete and perfect plan. Accept the uncertainty of what you know and make a plan anyway.
Making a dynamic plan
As you travel along your plan you will learn more about your situation, gain resources and find holes in your plan that you didn’t and couldn’t account for. Being able to adjust the plan based on newer information is really powerful.
Concrete plans often end in failure, while dynamic plans often end in success. Being flexible allows you to change your plan without it being about you.
Do not be afraid to begin to plan, knowing that you don’t know. Just accept that the plan will change as you learn and experience more.