Plans, Planning, And The Military Model

I doubt the military invented planning, but I suspect they were early adopters. While the goals and methods are vastly different from what we do as people, sometimes there are insights.

Some thoughts

“I shall proceed from the simple to the complex. But in war more than in any other subject we must begin by looking at the nature of the whole; for here more than elsewhere the part and the whole must always be thought of together.” – Carl von Clauswitz

That’s why you can’t have a life plan that begins with tactics. Tactics are about the parts. You must have an overall guiding vision – strategy.

“Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain.” – Carl von Clauswitz.

You should use your plan so you can change it as things change. It is not always the external context that changes. Sometimes your interpretation of the facts must be amended.

It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it. – Douglas MacArthur

Planning requires commitment to the goals and the process. If you have no will to win, commitment is difficult to sustain.

“There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity. ” – Douglas MacArthur.

Once you recognize that complete security is impossible, you will be more inclined to build structures that build predictability, or at least the ability to survive adversity without loss of core assets.

“Passive inactivity, because you have not been given specific instructions to do this or to do that, is a serious deficiency” George C. Marshall.

At the beginning of your planning, it will not be possible to establish all the specific instructions you need. Deal with what you can and make “proto-decisions” for the rest. Proto-decisions are decisions designed as a test of a possible tactic. You expect most of them to be wrong and lead to better solutions.

“Logistics comprises the means and arrangements which work out the plans of strategy and tactics. Strategy decides where to act; logistics brings the troops to this point.” – Antoine-Henri Jomini.

Logistics is the doing of the tactical ideas that attempt to enforce the will and resources on the vision previously decided. “Just Do It” is what happens next.

“You sure can’t make money if you don’t take risks. Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash. ” – George S. Patton.

Risk is always there. If you don’t understand and manage it, it will eventually overwhelm you.

“Strategy is a system of makeshifts. It is more than a science. It brings knowledge to bear on practical life, the further elaboration of an original guiding idea under constantly changing” – Helmut von Maltke, the elder.

Other people’s rules and ideas cannot be yours. You are unique and value things, own things, and are willing to work at things in ways no other does. You must be your own planner. The others can help, but they can derive neither your vision nor your strategy. They can help you clarify when it seems impossible, but you must decide to follow your dream.

Planning is a whole process.

  1. Find the visions
  2. Define them
  3. Find tools to make it happen
  4. Do it
  5. Then revise it based on what you have learned.

You need to revise it throughout your life.

“No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.” – Helmut von Maltke, the elder.

Substitute the real world for the “main hostile force,” and you see why constant review and revision is necessary.

“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower.

A paradox. Plans are for learning and anticipating the future. They are never done. They are guides to a better life.


I help people understand and manage risk and other financial issues. To help them achieve and exceed their goals, I use tax efficiencies and design advantages—the result: more security, more efficient income, larger and more liquid estates.

Please be in touch if I can help you. don@moneyfyi.com 705-927-4770

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: