Sometimes the constant planning makes me feel like climbing the walls. You all know the “planning of the planning” and the multiple hour strategy meetings that rarely have an instant visible outcome. Often, I would like to simply jump into the action and execute the ideas, see how they go, learn from them, and re-do if necessary. Lately, I have been thinking, whether it is the doing that drives people and organizations further or is it better to have a plan and act according to that?
Jumping into action can come quite handy at times. When the Corona pandemic hit, our team at Xes Helsinki continued operations almost like nothing happened, even though our main activities evolve around public events and community gatherings. In order to successfully re-conceptualize our activities, a whole bunch of experimental people were needed with the willingness to jump into the unknown without an actual plan. Experiments in businesses can also help companies innovate new products, services and process.
On the other hand, there are numerous cases when having a well-thought plan is necessary, sometimes even crucial. Some organizations have recently realized the importance of a good crisis communication plan, and entrepreneurial folks have all heard about the benefits of creating a business plan before taking action. A plan can also be of benefit when defining your personal vision, which can serve as a roadmap towards your goals.
Having said that, I believe no approach is better or worse than the other. In order to achieve success, whether it’s organizational or personal, we actually need qualities of both. We need the mind of a thinker to have those clever ideas and a strategy to back it up. We also need the drive and determination of a doer to reach set goals.
The right balance of thinking and doing varies by role and situation and there are some signs that can reveal whether or not you are unbalanced. For example, a sign of too little thinking can be a task-focused mindset, a mindset that measures accomplishments in completed tasks instead of their outcomes. Someone who thinks too much on the other hand, measures success in terms of knowing the right answers and not by the impact they make. Instead of the completed tasks or trying to have the “right” answers, a balanced person focuses on the outcomes they have driven.
Balancing thinking and doing is definitely not an easy task, but simply acknowledging that it is balance we should strive for allows us to stop glorifying “thinking” or “doing” on their own.
The author Evelin Bakó leads the operations and the Board of Xes Helsinki, an international entrepreneurship society based in Pasila, Helsinki. Xes’s purpose is to inspire people about entrepreneurship, provide a platform for its members to grow and expand their professional network. Xes Helsinki’s core values are diversity, impact, inclusiveness and personal growth.