Græme Gordon, Executive Director, Praxity
I admit it. I’m one of
those people who dresses up their house for the holiday season. I’m not
apologising, I’m just saying. Some do it, some don’t. Some like it, some don’t.
I think it adds to the
festivities, especially for those living in the northern half of the Northern
Hemisphere, for whom the nights are getting longer, colder and darker. A few bright
lights –OK, a lot of bright lights – at night can cheer you up.
I always look forward to
getting home, but even more so with cheery lights to greet me.
I could go on about
colour coordination and lighting sequences, but the real reason I mention all
this is to do with planning.
Now I think I’ve mentioned
my rule of 7Ps before – Perfect
Planning Prevents unProductive Poor Performance, Probably. However, like all rules,
there are caveats and cautions.
When it came to planning
this year’s holiday lighting scheme, I intended to repeat the success of last
year – a tasteful mixture of icy blue and white LED lights, along with a few seasonal
My son was volunteered to
help me, which he did for a few hours and his help was very useful. But it emerged
that he’d placed all but one of the strings of blue lights, and no white ones
at all, on one side of the garden.
A small thing but with big
Change of plan!
For me, this emphasised
the final P – Probably. As a military strategist Helmuth von Moltke astutely said
“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”. Not that my son’s my enemy but
it’s equally true in domestic efforts, business or military endeavours, that even
the perfect plan needs constant modification, as real events interfere and
As former UK Prime
Minister, Harold Macmillan, replied when asked what was the most difficult
thing to deal with when planning his week, “Events, dear boy, events!”
Thus, my plan changed. The
whole garden was filled with blue lights and I even bought a (very cheap)
archway that I covered in them. I then draped the house in white lights and
‘icicles’. This worked exceptionally well. Especially with the reindeer and
polar bear models. (Don’t ask.)
What all this brought
home is the role of flexibility in success.
We should always plan
where we can, and try to foresee where alternative routes and contingency
planning might be required.
But like every budget
process I’ve been involved with, the only certainty is that in the end virtually
none of the amounts budgeted will be equal to the actual amount expensed or
I’m still convinced that the
7Ps are the way to go. It’s just that we also need to be nimble, agile and
vigilant, to ensure we ultimately achieve what we intend to, even if it’s not by
the route we initially thought. Don’t get so bogged down in the process that
you lose sight of the final goal.
Remember, “shift happens!”
Just be ready for it.