Owners of small businesses and startups often have a belief that more planning and more data would help ensure the success of their enterprise. This is true up to a point, but according to a Harvard Business Review Webinar featuring Roger L. Martin, planning can actually be a crutch that paralyzes and postpones business growth and innovation, not enables it.

In his webinar “The Big Lie of Strategic Planning,” Martin argues that “developing strategy means going outside an organization’s comfort zone and escaping the common traps of strategic planning.” Click the link to view the video and see more about his insights.

Smaller businesses should actually embrace their ability to iteratively plan, which is often based on a smaller scope of risk for a project or idea compared to that of larger firms (it’s true that it often doesn’t feel like a smaller risk). In another article from Harvard Business Review, the authors argue that “predicting consumer reaction, a key determinant of success, is nearly impossible without trial and error.”

In an environment of innovation, there is by definition not an established track to run on. Entrepreneurs should take comfort in knowing that the best planning is sometimes the least planning, coupled with a careful strategy of learning by doing.


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