“A plan is only worth the paper it is written on” – that is a phrase I came across in an internal newsletter from our unit head. So not worth much, you would think.

If you are like me, an action person who just wants to get things done, that statement would be very welcome. Now, I had a reason to really not spend time on planning.

But it was the words that followed that I then took heart to and thirteen years since I first saw that note, something I still remember. And those words were (not an exact quote) – “but the process of planning is worth its weight in gold”.

And that rings true. How many times have we asked our team for a plan and been satisfied as long as something was presented ? Any new venture does not get a backing without a well laid out plan. But, this piece of advice that I had a long time back has shaped the way I approach any plans that I review.

As I wrote in a blog post a while back, in business it is all about being approximately right. Given the uncertainty of the parameters on which decisions are to made, one can be assured that the assumptions will change as soon as execution gets under way.

So, what I look for in a plan that comes across my desk is really for the rigor in which it has been drawn up. The alternatives that have been considered, the sensitivities against the assumptions.

And that clearly sets apart a good plan from the bad.