Quote – planning too much?

For some time now, we’ve been working with a senior retired banker from Lazard who is on our board of advisers. We essentially hired him to be our boss, in terms of helping us with strategic decisions, setting priorities, and gaining perspective on events that would help us make better decisions.

Mr. P has a number of stories and quotes that have stuck with us, one of which is “that’s a second sale problem.” We hear it often when our ability to plan, and our natural affinity for it, overtakes our current state of execution. Not telling us not to plan, but telling us that solving certain problems and making certain decisions can, and more properly should, wait until after the first widget is sold to someone, anyone, at a negotiated price. Then a lot more things start to fall into place.

I’ve been thinking of this maxim recently with an interim management client who has in the past tried hard to “shape” a group of investors; my advice has generally been to bring in the money and then worry about secondary characteristics. He’s moved closer to this position now, and he’s now seeing it bear fruit.

We recently came across a well-crafted statement by Winston Churchill that captures the essence of the second-sale maxim: “It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.”

Leadership and discipline are required to chart the best course between planning and execution, between production capacity and production.