At the beginning of my carrier, in the period immediately before the fall of the Berlin wall, I had the opportunity to spend a month at the Hungarian subsidiary of an international banking group. At the time, economic planning was still “in vogue” in Hungary in the form of five-year plans. Based on my little experience, I thought that business enterprises do not overdo the planning, but rather organize their operations based on the current effects of the market. To my surprise, the Hungarian colleagues told me that our planning system is dwarfed by the bank group’s meticulous, comprehensive planning methodology. I didn’t understand the reasons at the time.
Later, when I became a manager myself, my bosses, or the owners asked me to prepare the annual and medium-term plans of the managed department or independent company. At first, I thought it was a rather unnecessary pastime, because I thought that we could not really foresee beyond one year, let alone a longer period. I also found that life constantly overrides our plans, especially in unstable or rapidly changing economic environments. It took me a long time to understand the essence of planning, its role in the functioning of an organization and its indispensability.
The first thing that became clear to me was that planning was an excellent opportunity for a team or management group to consider the priorities and necessary resources of the longer or shorter period ahead. Similarly, a well-designed business plan will help us to show our partners (e.g., owners, financing banks, sponsors), where our organization is going and win them over to support it. It is also okay if the facts do not go exactly according to plan (they never do), because a good business plan also helps us to react quickly and without losing sight of our goals to unexpected events. Finally, the plan can be a good tool for measuring the performance of ourselves and our staff and to point out shortcomings and opportunities for improvement in an objective and constructive way. On this basis, it has become clear to me that planning, if properly prepared, is an excellent tool for communicating between different interest groups and partners.
I also understood that living based on random, momentary impulses ultimately results in chaos, because after a while, without setting the goals and define and the way to them, you cannot even determine what is important and not important for a particular decision or life situation. This is especially true today, when we are regularly exposed to a great deal of unpredictable effects and information that often contradict one another. Well-thought-out planning also helps us understand and maintain our recommendations consistently.
The Bible emphasizes similar things, and I would like to share a few thoughts about this.
Our Creator God, whose image we were created, also acts based on plans and invites us into his plan. “ O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plan formed of old, faithful and sure.” (Isaiah 25:1)
As Christians, it is also important to use our abilities in the field of design, paying attention to God’s leadership. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
It is important that the design is not a one-man exercise, but a team effort. “Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.” (Proverbs 20:18)
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Zsolt Szalai is self-employed as a business consultant. During his carrier, Zsolt gained a wide range of experience in corporate finance, capital markets, project finance, innovation management, and business development areas. Zsolt is also an adjunct professor at Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Károli Gáspár Reformed University, Pentecostal Theological College, and Bakke Graduate University.
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