Proper planning prevents piss poor performance – WRONG!

It is NOT proper planning but proper preparation that prevents “piss poor performance”!

Lots of aphorisms masquerade as truisms when they are not. How can it be that “proper planning prevents piss poor performance” when “no plan survives first contact with enemy?” Intuition and experience readily tell you that the first popular assertion is wrong and that the second is right. 

If an army were to use the first maxim, they would die in trenches of tasks - as many plan-fixated programmes do. No wonder that the Army (which is one of the sources of D4 and AOD techniques) talks not of planning but of preparation. Preparation is the act of getting ready– training, planning and rehearsing with a goal in mind. Planning is the process of deciding in detail how you intend to do something before you actually do it. 

The preparation in AOD covers all the principles of D4 and more. In training it gives heads-up to the CxOs and particularly the CFO about the key concepts which will be used:how they will be enabled to say what outcomes they want in “show me” terms; how consensus is enabled across the Board; the way in which they will delegate their “Show Mes”  and communicate them to the whole organisation, so that the organisation can mentally rehearse the future; the significance of right to left planning and how it works; the placement of projects within a ‘backcast’ framework; the process which systematically drives out cash values; how these cash values and costs are estimated and how they are connected to the outcomes, so that the programme office can manage agile re-planning as the delivery meets “contact with the enemy,” and so that theCxOs can walk the floor, track delivery and recognise achievement on the ground and in the cash flows.

As you can see AOD forces thorough and comprehensive preparation.  It positions planning in subordinate position within a powerfully goal-centred framework. During delivery in a programme managed on AOD principles, plans are regularly made and discarded in an agile manner, just as a GPS re-calculates route when unforeseeable deviations occur in the original plan.  The programme, reinforced by Finance’s ability to read off the value of the “show mes” and so confidently write off sunk costs, constantly asks “From where we are now – not from where we were then – what is the optimum path to the out come and the pay back?”  In this way the effort and costs are continuously minimised and the outcome value is assured. 

Hence “Assured Outcome Delivery.” It’s the only kind of delivery that enables an Army to survive and it’s the only kind of delivery that your company can succeed with. It’s why the first of three stages in AOD is called Prepare Better, Lead Brilliantly.

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