Plans are not Actions

Similar to the “Talk does not equal Action” confusion witnessed at many a company, there is a difference between “having a plan” and “executing that plan.”

That sounds terribly stupid to write, but this idea takes up an entire section of the book.

Mission statements, reports, presentations, status updates.

They may all have their place and their purpose, but they are almost rarely useful in the same way action and execution are useful. They are not to be confused with action.

The same goes when evaluating your colleagues. It’s easy to be won over by someone who sounds smart and has a great plan. There are actually some cognitive biases at work which can lead you to believe the smartest talker is the smartest person in the room.

But talk is not action. A plan is a not execution. Appreciate this difference.

Also, by the way, I am personally a fan of presentations and reports. Sorry for not being sorry. Reports capture knowledge, document progress, and can often spark new thinking as you figure out just how to explain something. I’ve had many instances where just trying to explain something to someone else allowed me to have a new insight. (Bad Managers Talk, Good Managers Write)

Presentations are also great for capturing knowledge and sharing information – two things close to my heart. The point of this knowing-doing gap is not to say these things are useless…the point is to demonstrate that it’s easy to confuse them for action.

Stay vigilant; call ’em out when you see plans parading as actions.