Throw out the plan and survive!

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Sat, Mar 21, 2020

Typically, at this point in the selling season, I'd be writing this morning about the end of Q1, telling everyone to crunch it for this final week ahead, and begin prepping for the upcoming most important quarter in any selling year,   But, not today!

Most importantly...

  • ...take care of yourself and your family!
  • ...take care of your employees and your partners!
  • ...when we focus on these two critical requirements, then we win!

Everything then is much simpler! 

Of course, I'm not downplaying the huge financial impact on all of us, our businesses and our careers.  We are all impacted, but I also know personally and through the hundreds of "just checking in" calls I've made this week, that we will adjust in the short term and recover in the longer term, but first, we must survive. 

Yes, at this time in our personal and business lives, right now and for many months ahead, what we do is about survival.  

Throw out the Plan !

Wicked hard for me to write those four words.  I've spent my entire professional life from the Peace Corps to Honeywell, to Becton Dickinson, to CB Sports, to nine startups and then Derby Management and teaching at Tufts with one principal underpinning as the critical foundation of whatever I've done...and that's planning...  

  • ...personal planning
  • ...time management planning
  • ...strategic business planning
  • ...sales and marketing planning 

...and it's always worked.  Not the plan itself, but the planning process which took me and my teams through lots of speed bumps, and we always stayed on the road even when the twists, the frequent turns and those unexpected detours were torturous.  We always survived, and most of times fought our way back to success. 

planing dwight-david-eisenhower-quote-in-preparing-for-battle-i-have-always-2As part of this thinking, I have always focused on the words of General Eisenhower in the dark days of WWII, when after a year of detailed involvement working on the invasion of Europe, the plan simply did not work.  With tens of thousands of troops pinned down on the bloody beaches of Normandy, Eisenhower along with all the Allied generals committed to a new plan, laid down new battle lines and pushed forward through sheer brute strength and an unrelenting drive to survive. Eisenhower's point in this now famous quote is that the singular act of planning itself by yourself or with whatever team you have is the only way forward in order to get off the beaches and move inch by inch ahead to survival. 

Once we get past survival, we can then move ahead!  

The Eisenhower Matrix

Eisenhower MatrixGiven this current battle we're fighting, It may be of value to take a look early this coming week at another Eisenhower principle, now known at The Eisenhower Matrix and popularized by Stephen Covey. 

Brilliant in its simplicity and yet forceful in its requirement, the matrix pushes us to make short term decisions based on prioritizing and re-balancing our personal and business tasking based on Importance and Urgency.  

Don't Overthink!

For the last half of 2019, I started using this phrase of "Don't Overthink!" all the time with our Derby Management companies, with my students and in working with my Tufts entrepreneurs in their startups.  Too often, as managers we get lost in the complexities of our markets, our products and the myriad of personnel issues we face every day, when in reality, success in our businesses, and especially now, comes down to focusing on just a few basic principles:

  • We need to take care of our people, hire the best and coach them in culture & skills
  • We need to focus on the specifics of the value we bring the business of our customers.
  • We need to sell efficiently and effectively in the way our customers want to be sold.

Rocky, confusing and emotional unknowns lie ahead, but we can, and we will survive by moving forward!

If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board, just connect at any time.  Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call.  Obviously, no cost-just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.

Have a safe and positive week ahead!

Jack and Tufts Entrepreneurship Center -1


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Head Coach, Derby Management, experts in...
-Sales & Marketing Productivity
-Business and Strategic Planning

Professor, Tufts Entrepreneurship Center
-Entrepreneurial Marketing & The Science of Sales

Tags: business planning, writing a business plan, Making Tough Choices, 2020 business plans, 2020 sales plans, writing business plans