The Value of a Long-Term Plan

I read a blog post recently that indicated the death of long-term planning was imminent. Their point was that we need to be so flexible in a fast changing world that we should no longer make 5, 10, or 20 year plans. Even a one year plan was diminished in importance for this writer.

I understand. I agree with the writer in principle.

In the age of short-term, instant everything, long-range planning gets a bad rap.I have a concern though.

My fear is if you don’t look further down the road, you’ll wake up surprised someday.

You’ll drift off course…

You’ll lose your way…

You’ll get distracted…

You don’t have to be rigid with your plan. I don’t even like the sound of that. You don’t have to legislate the methods of reaching the plan. That could keep you from embracing current trends. You don’t have to resist change because you have a plan. That seems counter-productive to me.

I just think you may still need a long-term plan.

Knowing where you want to end up is one key to long-term success. To me, that requires a longer term plan.

I know this:

You seldom hit a target you haven’t positioned in front of you.

How do you feel about long-term planning?

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Ron Edmondson

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  • In today’s complex world, I believe that all leaders need to develop a facility for viewing the world through two lenses: a telescope, to consider opportunities far into the future, and a microscope, to scrutinize challenges of the moment at intense magnification.

    Most of us are naturally more comfortable with one lens or the other; we are “farsighted” or “nearsighted,” but rarely both. In times of complexity, leaders must be able to see clearly through either lens and to manage the shift between the two with speed and ease.

    Leaders must use the telescope to watch for long-term trends, dream big dreams, imagine where an organization should be in five or ten years, and reallocate resources accordingly. The accelerating pace of technological innovation makes this aspect of a leader’s role more important than ever.

    The microscope, too, affords a critical perspective. Leaders must force their organizations to challenge conventional wisdom; consider the implications of unlikely, “long-tail” scenarios; and focus on pressing issues in minute detail.

  • Bob Smith says:

    It's the suggestion that you WILL fail if you don't plan that I find unsupported in the Bible.

    God doesn't talk about targets either. But if you do make plans, seek advice seems to be recommended. If you build a house get advice on the cost etc. Nothing wrong with that. Some plans may be OK with the caveat "If the Lord wills." I think we have to be careful about using the Bible to support business models with proof texting though. Christian financial planners do this all the time.

    Almost all the verses you chose about planning dealt with very extreme circumstances, as opposed to what people normally encounter every day.

    The focus of Prov. 16:3 is not on planning but on committing your way to the Lord. Plans here could refer to plans within the course of a day, as Jesus emphasis was to take one day at a time, for each day has enough trouble of its own. The Bible never uses the term goal setting, that takes the Spirit out of the equation it would seem to me. Here's my plans Lord, now bless them.

    You would think that somewhere along the line Jesus would have said to his disciples, "you all need a 5 year plan for your life." Somehow I can't hear him saying that. Seems like, "Follow me" was sufficient. Again, I'm just thinking all this through and challenging much of what has been said for the past century.

    • ronedmondson says:

      I appreciate your thoughts.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Last comment though. Just because Jesus didn't say something in the terms we use today doesn't make those terms anti-Biblical. We could stretch that a long way. Probably wouldn't be using the Internet.But I agree. The best plan is the “follow Him” plan.

  • Bob Smith says:

    Scott, It seems like those who push all the planning and goal setting are very analytical minded. Not everyone is wired the same way, so what works for one person may not for another. In light of your position on long term planning focus though, how do you address the biblical principles that seem to suggest a different way of thinking?

    The book of James, "not boasting about tomorrow or say I will do this or that in such and such a city for all such boasting is evil" or Jesus, don't worry about tomorrow for each day has enough trouble of its own, or "give us this day our daily bread" as opposed to 5 years worth of bread, or Jesus sending out his disciples saying go from town to town and do not take a purse or an extra pair of sandals or tunic, for the worker is worthy of his hire, or the Israelites being lead by natural forces, supplied on with daily mana while God imposed the deadline for reaching their goal, or Ecclesiastes, "a man cannot discover anything about his future," or the Proverbs, the plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord," and it is the Lords plans that will prevail," or Jerimiah, "many are the plans "I" have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you a future hope?"…

    It seems to me that the notion of long term planning and goal setting is entirely man made, and that while we need to be diligent in our work or calling, we need to do more going with the flow spiritually as well as practically, and not put God or ourselves in a box. I think doing that may involve more than just being flexible with your goals and plans, but a whole different way of thinking.

    I don't have all the answers to this, but I have been thinking about this and searching the scriptures as well. What are your thoughts about what I've said?


    • ronedmondson says:

      Sorry, not long to respond here, but I think you can pull Scripture to support either view.Christ endured suffering for the “joy set before Him”.Consider the implications of these verses:Prov 6:6-11Or what about Joseph and how he planned for the famine.Paul seemed to make plans to visit other countries (Romans 15:23-32, Phil 1:19-26)Nehemiah certainly seemed to be a planner.Or these random verses: Proverbs 14:15: “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.”Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”Proverbs 20:18: “Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.”I certainly don't think we can say plans, even long-term planning is anti-Biblical. I think starting with the end resolve of honoring Christ and the release of our plans to God's will is key.Sorry for the random, quick response, but I gotta get back to planning for Sunday 🙂

  • I think Stephen Covey said it well, "Begin with the end in mind." If you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there (If indeed you ever do)?

  • Bryankr

    One of the problems I see facing today’s generation of instant gratification is that it tends to leave one ompty. Long range gives you something more for the future. Somethig to aim for, work for. When you have reached that long term goal, you have a greater sense of achievemnt.instant gratification gives you everything now and no reason to move forward.

    The problem with that mentality is we don’t really no what flexability is. How to bounce with the ebb and flow of the constant change that is all around us.

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