His article contained 16 rules he tries to live by, which provided insight into how he thinks about business, entrepreneurship and success. Of the 16 rules, the one that really made me think was No. 8 - Be quick to decide.
Parsons referred to a statement attributed to Civil War Gen. Tecumseh Sherman: “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” It’s not surprising that he lives by this rule; he is in the software business, and making swift decisions is critical.
But how important is quick decision-making to the success of businesses in other industries? Is Gen. Sherman’s advice as applicable to today’s business decisions as it was to Civil War battlefield decisions?
For years, I have touted the virtues of planning for growing businesses. My first reaction was that I have been giving the wrong advice. But then I realized Parsons and Sherman were simply stating that success is more dependent on making decisive decisions in a timely manner and then implementing your plan than on developing the greatest plan ever.
Implementing the plan is where the payback is, and the quicker it is done, the quicker the payback.
Sherman’s statement still makes business management sense today, forming the basis of a successful entrepreneur’s rules to live by. It provides insight not only for those who love to develop plans and are never satisfied until the plan is perfect, but also for those whose planning consists of getting an idea on the way into work and implementing it before they get their coat off.
First, planning is an important factor in success. The general would not have sent his troops into battle without a plan for beating the enemy. But he also understood and recognized when he had done enough planning and when it was time to take action.
The enemy (or your customers) won’t sit still to allow you to take one more day to perfect your battle plan. And everyone from the general (or CEO) to the foot solder (or employee) must be committed to the implementation of that plan.
JOEL STROM is the founder of Joel Strom Associates. His firm works with closely held businesses and their ownership, helping them set and achieve growth objectives while maximizing profitability and value. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (216) 831-2663.