When we are trying to help people reach a goal or meet an objective, it can help to differentiate between destination planning and route planning.
Destination planning can be done with a paper map. We are in one place and the destination is in another. Route planning can be done and then modified on our way, like with Waze (or your smartphone GPS of choice).
Destination planning tells us the basics of distance and direction. Route planning tells us the strategy and real-time information we’ll use to modify our route on our journey.
Let’s say we are trying to fund some future project. The end target is the destination. We might estimate a dollar value we need to reach. On the way, there are some surprises – good and bad – and like Waze rerouting us due to heavy traffic or speed traps, we can use the updates to help us navigate. Maybe excess funding from another project speeds up our arrival time, or a delay in execution on a key step puts us in a traffic jam. We still know where we are going, but we also know how and why we’ll respond to new information as it comes in (and sometimes we just have to sit in traffic).
By considering both destination and route planning in advance, we force the “what could go wrong and how should we respond” conversation. If we only consider the destination and one fixed route we miss out on this step. Once you’ve used Waze, are you really going back to just a paper map? Probably not. We still need the map for Waze to outline the journey, but the most experiential value is in the real-time updates along the way. We know the common pitfalls, we know the reasons to re-route, and we know sometimes we will just have to stay the course and arrive later. The value comes out of a system for recognizing, interpreting, and resetting our predictions in real-time.
Planning is no different. Destination planning and route planning help everyone set expectations in advance so we can expect to adjust to new information on our way. Better planning is more robust planning. We leave room for luck, good and bad, and loosen our decision making muscles to roll with whatever the journey throws at us.
For this idea and more, check out Annie Duke’s interview with Ted Seides on the Capital Allocators Podcast ep. 156, “How to Decide.” And, you know I love Annie Duke – plenty more here.