Eight Questions | Chapter Six – Part 2 | Change Management – No Plan Survives…

J. Keith Hughey


Volume XXI, Number 18 (Issue 1022) May 1, 2023

Eight Questions | Chapter Six – Part 2 | Change Management – No Plan Survives…

first contact with the enemy. That well-known military axiom traces its origins to 1880 and the writings of Helmuth van Moltke, a Prussian military strategist. For some, that statement might seem to argue against spending time planning. If no plan can survive the first roadblock or unexpected twist, why bother planning at all? For me, having spent a sizable percentage of my professional career facilitating strategic planning for client organizations, the mere mention of that maxim would seem to be career-ending. However, the fact we cannot anticipate every competitor’s move or response, let alone the changes in the economy, technology, regulatory or legislative actions, or a myriad of other variables is no reason not to plan.

To the contrary, the time spent planning is incredibly valuable if all it accomplishes is to provide us with a target, a credible assessment of the current situation, the risk and reward of our plan, and the first critical steps, i.e., some clarity of how, when, where, and why. When we are able to add additional clarity through simulation of alternative courses of action, it only improves our chances of success. And now, with the explosive rise of machine learning and AI, our time spent planning can only be enhanced. But it must not stop there.

Other things we need to help us make more effective and intelligent plans are:

  1. Objectivity.
  2. A master list of current and future projects.
  3. An inventory of available resources.
  4. A process that enables us to prioritize competing projects.
  5. A process for managing/allocating scarce resources across multiple projects and priorities.

We could parse each of the five items listed above and may still, but for now I want to focus on item four – a process to prioritize competing projects and their call on

available resources. One notable area of debate in setting priorities is the attraction of grabbing low hanging fruit (quick, symbolic wins) if only to create momentum and demonstrate commitment to change/improvement. Contrast that with the equally sound reasoning that argues on behalf of the big, highly impactful tasks to prevent the quick victories from becoming pyrrhic (all sizzle but no steak).

Once again, the answer to such a dichotomy is best answered “it depends.” In other words, the context matters. Who is the audience and what message do you need to send? If showing progress is most important, go for quick victories. If establishing a sturdy foundation is the greater need, particularly if it is coming on the heels of a spate of abandoned and failed projects, then tackling the big rocks first may makes the most sense. In that vein alone the choice represents sound time management practices.

In Part 3 we will tackle three keys to successful change management.

Soli Deo Gloria

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

J. Keith Hughey

Mobile: (210)260-0955
E-mail: keith@jkeithhughey.com
Web site: www.jkeithhughey.com

Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance
Copyright 2023 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The entire early library of Monday Morning Musings issues may be found at www.jkeithhughey.com. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

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