The 7 Laws of Planning During Turbulence

A five-year plan is a fairy tale in turbulent environments.

The best you can do in uncertainty and turbulence is set direction and improvise.

Planning is making decisions ahead of time. Last year’s planned move is dangerous when environments are volatile, unstable, complex, and ambiguous.

The 7 laws of planning in turbulent environments:

  1. Set medium-term direction and make short-term plans during turbulence.
  2. The higher the turbulence, the shorter the window for planning becomes.
  3. Planning becomes progressively less useful and more dangerous as turbulence increases.
  4. Agility and adaptability matter more than staying the course in turbulent environments.
  5. Stable character increases in value as environments become less stable.
  6. Improvisation IS strategy in turbulent environments. Everything else is contingency.
  7. Make short-term plans but know if turbulence persists, plans will change.

Succeeding in turbulence

#1. Build relationships that galvanize during turbulent times.

You’ll go further with others in your boat than you will by rowing alone.

  1. Build relationships before the boat starts filling up with water.
  2. Nurture long-term relationships. Every leader needs a pool of reliable go-to people.
  3. Show up to help others because it’s who you are, not because you need something.
  4. Ask for help when you need it.

Success in any environment requires connecting with others. 

#2. Maintain realistic optimism.

Face reality with your eyes wide open and the belief that you can find a way forward. 

Realistic optimism fuels urgency and energy. Pessimism invites posturing and reluctance.

How might leaders navigate turbulence?