"There's got to be a better way!" It was the fifth (or was it the sixth?) time Mary had said this to her treasure hunt teammates.
They'd been running from location to location, working hard and collecting points, but making slow progress. To Mary, it was clear that what they were doing wasn't very efficient. Still they forged on. She wasn't sure what was worse, the fact that they hadn't done any planning, but had just jumped into action or that no one besides her seemed to recognize it. She'd spoken up several times, were they even listening?
It took nearly an hour before her teammates came to the realization that, yes, there had to be a better way. So they stopped and began to put a plan together, looking objectively at their task and how to best accomplish it. Once they had set a strategy, they set off again and began to more efficiently tackle the treasure hunt course. They quickly saw the benefits and with renewed energy wrapped up the hunt with a flourish of activity, and ending with an impressive point total.
In the debrief after the time for finding clues was over, Mary's team found they weren't the only ones who didn't adopt a strategy until about halfway through the activity. Why was it that so many teams jumped into action without taking some time to plan ahead? After all, the ideal time to implement a strategy is at the beginning of a task, not midway through.
Sometimes our bias for action overwhelms our need to plan. In a business culture that praises results, particularly quick results, it shouldn't be a surprise that planning often comes secondarily, almost as an afterthought. It's a "results at all costs" mindset that overlooks the obvious - the better the planning the better the results. Of course, one shouldn't mistake quantity for quality - more planning doesn't necessarily equal a better plan.
Help your team avoid the "Ready, Fire, Aim" mindset by starting with the end in mind, creating the strategy to achieve that goal, planning out the tasks required and then executing with precision.
Making the investment of time upfront to properly plan can pay major dividends down the road.