I suspect I should follow the advice I give to clients when I tell them they need to rigorously plan their future. However, I think consulting is different, in that I am always attuned to changes in the market and client needs. If I have the advantage of always being on top of evolving needs and am agile enough to respond, why should I prepare a complex, formal plan? Besides, that is just time I could be billing or relaxing.
The notion of "planning" warrants some explanation. Dwight Eisenhower said, ""In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." It is not necessary to (a) create a complex, formal plan as you say, (b) spend a tremendous amount of time planning, or (c) consider a plan an immutable commitment of action for a long period of time. Planning is about making yourself aware of your capabilities (both strengths and opportunities for improvement), alternative scenarios in the market, and risks - al in the context of some explicit objectives and principles. It is a longer view than your perceive and adapt approach you imply. It is the habit of thinking in a structured way about your possible futures, but doing so with an eye to a desired future state. Your past success in adapting to a changing market is not necessarily a confirmation that you are making progress toward your goals.Tip:
Pick a planning framework and commit to quarterly planning sessions, preferably with a colleague or two, if not your advisory board. Annually this could be a half or full day, and quarterly a hour or two to review and defend your choices. It is about habit and progress toward a goal, not just staying alive in business for yet another quarter that is the mark of success.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA