Plans and planning are frequently misunderstood.
The essential instructions Dwight Eisenhower shared in a quote allow me to explain. Eisenhower was a five-star general in the United States Army and the 34th President of the United States. He is perhaps best known for his role as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II.
His experience adds even more weight to his words. "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."— Dwight D. Eisenhower
To understand this, it is worth looking at just how critical Eisenhower’s planning was. In the months leading up to to D-Day, Eisenhower oversaw the extensive planning and preparation for the operation. He worked closely with British and American military leaders to coordinate the movements of the forces involved.
There was an urgent need to invade France and begin the fight to defeat the Nazis. But, at the same time, the allies couldn’t afford to fail. So, planning was essential. One part of this process was to look for the worst case scenarios that could befall the allies. Undoubtedly, a significant risk lay in landing on the beaches.
It was an obvious bottleneck.
The allies expected mines off the coast. The loss of life, let alone the wreckage from damaged craft would risk the success of the invasion. It was obvious calm seas, a low tide and clear skies would reduce this threat. And so, the alignment of a full moon and low tide became a critical success factor for the invasion to go ahead.
Such a window appeared on June 5,6 or 7—subject to favourable weather conditions to appear. The rest, is, as they say, history.
Planning for the worst case brings clarity to underseen danger.
This brings us to this week's One Weekly Decision. We are often forced into situations where the need to decide appears urgent. The pressure to make things happen can be significant. The downside is we overlook planning.
Eisenhower had a clear understanding of what could prevent success.
So, before you act, stop. Start planning—not to create plans, but to think about what could go wrong. What is the worst-case scenario? With a grasp of what it might be you have a chance to avoid it.
That's the power of planning.
Have a great week!
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