The power of planning

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Douglas Gimlich
  • 97th Medical Support Squadron
We have all heard the saying that "nobody plans to fail, they just fail to plan." But how often do we sit down and actually devise a plan? I would argue that in today's 100mph Air Force, we don't give planning nearly the time it deserves. And we do so to our detriment. There are many benefits to planning, some more obvious than others. But before we investigate these benefits, let's cover what planning is and what is involved.

According to, planning is one of the most important project management and time management techniques. Why is this important? Because planning is essential to achieving our goals. A good way to view a plan is to compare it to a map. When following a map, you can see how far you've travelled towards your destination or goal and how far you are from your destination. Knowing where you are is essential for making good decisions about where to go next.

Now that we understand the concept of a plan, what are the components of a plan? First, a good plan clearly and succinctly states your goals and objectives. If you don't know what you want to achieve, why bother planning in the first place? A good plan will also outline the steps you need to take to achieve those goals and objectives. Finally, a good plan will include strategies to follow to carry out these steps. For more critical or longer-term goals, it's also good to include milestones, resources, limiting factors and potential pitfalls in your plan.

By now you might be thinking that planning sounds like more trouble than it's worth. But I would argue otherwise. According to Outperformers International, planning has many benefits. To start, planning gives us purpose and direction. It coordinates our efforts. Without a plan we can find ourselves bouncing from one crisis to the next. Planning also provides control and balance over an otherwise hectic existence. Next, planning provides a means of measurement. Without a plan, we can't know if we're making progress or not. Furthermore, planning focuses our thinking...and in today's Air Force we need some clarity of thought throughout our hectic duty schedules. Finally, planning is encouraging: when you know where you're going and how you're going to get there, you create confidence.

So the next time you feel that formal planning takes too much time or effort, reflect on how beneficial it is to you and to the organization you lead.