“Planning is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to do something. The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.”
— Sir John Harvey Jones
Problems seem to happen when you’re least prepared.
On July 5th, 2022, circumstances allowed for my wife and I to sell both our vehicles and transition to an EV plug-in hybrid. Even though we were used to fuel-efficient cars, we were amazed when we didn’t need to fill-up the gas tank until August 13th, 40 days after we bought the car!
We’d traveled 705.1 miles and the fill-up required 9.8 gallons. That’s 71.9 mpg.
Yeah, we were happy to say the least.
Transitioning from a two-vehicle family to one car was tricky. While Lyft got more of our money than they otherwise would have, we were happy and doing just fine. Then, on March 1st, 2023, I was coming home late from a meeting when the I could tell I was having some tire problems.
After inspecting all four wheels, it was clear the left front tire was losing pressure. I was 8 miles from home and thought I could make it safely, which I did. By the time I got home, all I had on that rim was two circular pieces of what had been a tire–see the picture above–what was left looked pretty funny.
I was surprised there had been no grinding or scraping and the rim looked fine. I went to bed expecting to put the spare on in the morning and get a replacement tire.
What first time EV buyer thinks to ask about a jack, much less a spare tire?
That’s right. EV’s don’t come with spare tires. There’s no room for them. And if there’s no spare tire, why have a jack? And if there’s no jack, why put a steel plate under the chassis by each wheel to jack the car up safely? Clearly there is no need for a jack or a place to safely use one on the chassis.
This time the cost was minor. My C.S.A.A. membership got my car towed to the local tire shop for free where they replaced it. I walked 1.8 miles to them from my house and picked it up about an hour later. Problem solved, and for the cost of a tire.
What will it cost me next time if I’m not prepared?
As Sir John Harvey Jones said, “planning is an unnatural process.” It’s something that takes time and thought–two things most leaders have too little of. Mostly we just scramble to keep the day-to-day stuff going, like filling up the gas tank, and avoid too many disruptions, like making sure there’s a spare. Stopping to clear my head and really think isn’t easy.
And that’s the problem.
Ever since I saw my first well-thought out business plan almost 40 years ago I’ve been preaching business and marking plans. They’re important. Critically important.
Of course, if you and your staff are good enough, you can get by without them. For a while. But any success is guaranteed to be unsustainable. If something happens and you’re not there to provide the answer, how will your staff know what you want them to do if it’s not documented? And when the time comes for them to respond without you, how much harm will that lack of planning do? If you’re lucky, it will just cost time and money. If not, it might cause your organization to fail.
Isn’t that degree of risk sufficient to justify making time to prepare and plan?