Why Your Five Year Plan is Technologically Irrelevant

Before the end of 2018, we talked about making technology your business partner.  At the beginning of 2019, we’ll talk about how five-year plans and technology mix like oil and water.  We’ll also talk about an alternative approach.  The main issues are that five-year-plans are rigid and can be a waste of time, and technology is dynamic and often exponential.  Vision is the new technology, five-year plans are old-school. 

Five Year … blah, blah, blah, blah, blah

A five-year plan is the antithesis of technology as your partner.  For the most part, five-year plans are for laggards (see the book Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail).  Laggards create a five-year plan based on what they know today and assume that little or nothing will change in the next five years.  The problem is that our lives and our businesses are usually unrecognizable in a 5-year time span, and not because we planned it.  So if you make a five-year plan, and you really stick to it like doctrine, you likely won’t be flexible enough to adapt to changes in your life, the economy, or the market.  That’s bad, right?  Right.  So why waste your time and money at all then?  Don’t do that!

Technology is Big and Fast

Technology is big and fast, and you are welcome to be as big or small as you like, but you’d better be just as fast, or faster.  Technology is like Godzilla, walking the streets of Tokyo, and for the majority of business, we are the people in the street.  In order to not be squished, we have to move, and duck, and run.  That metaphor might not be exactly right, but if your business isn’t nimble, technology could hurt you.  Consider, for example, what Netflix did to Blockbuster.  I bet Blockbuster had an “excellent” five-year plan.  What is the Netflix that is threatening your livelihood? 

The Now and The Future

Those embracing technology start with fixed values and a long-term vision and use shorter-term plans.  Samil Ismail calls his vision a massive transformative purpose.  Gino Wickman in his book Traction, suggests that values are part of your vision.  Regardless of the semantics, your values and future outlook should inspire you, and your team, to execute to the best of your ability.  Between values and vision there is a fairly narrow path of efficiency, where you or your team simply need to ask two questions:

  1. Is the decision I am about to make congruent with my static set of values?
  2. Does the decision I am about to make lead toward the vision I have of success?

If you can’t answer “yes” to both questions, don’t do that!  Does this simple guideline exclude any planning?  No.

One Year Planning

The one-year plan is long enough to mitigate the chaos of making every decision in the moment, yet isn’t so rigid, or costly, to abandon if technology,  market, or life comes stomping around. Typically what we need to do in the next year is obvious and daunting, and a five-year plan includes guessing and is unrealistic.  Every time I have considered both a one-year and a five-year plan in the same setting, nothing about the five-year plan is actually relevant when considering the immediate year ahead.  A one-year plan is hard enough to execute as we hang on for dear life amidst the whirlwind of business and life. 

The five-year plan is old technology, something a government would do, disguising waste as prudence. If you first define now, where you are, your purpose, your values, and then define your vision of the future, the decisions in between these two ideas are much more easy to choose.  At most, do a one-year plan and don’t forget to include I.T., after all, technology is the reason why your five-year planning is a waste.  

If you need help with IT Services in Calgary, make sure to contact the experts at YellowWood IT. A small business depends on the right technology, at the right time, in the right place, and at YellowWood IT, we have the requisite knowledge and purpose to help you and your small business with your technology.  Get started with confidence, www.yellowwoodit.ca | (844) 387 – 0607