When you have learned to plan, you have to plan to learn. When you talk about how to grow a business, you are talking about how to learn.
Frog #1 is placed into a container of water at room temperature. The frog swims.
Frog #2 is placed into a container of extremely hot water. Sensing an inhospitable environment, it immediately jumps out before it is scalded.
Frog #3 is placed in a container of temperature water sitting on a gas burner turned to a low setting.Frog #3 will lull around in the water, swimming. As the water slowly heats up, its senses will dull, and its ability to react will decline. When the animal finally realizes that its environment has changed for the worse and that it will boil to death, it will lack the physical resources to escape unless it is rescued by the compassionate biology student.
Sooner or later, businesses end up like frog #3. Businesses lull themselves into failure, and this often reflects their inability to learn what the immediate business environment is saying. Only an organization that does not presume to know will be able to detect and use fresh new information from its environment. Planning must be firmly based on inquiry. Questions keep business alive.
In order to enjoy success, many things have to go right. The task of starting a new business might be judged impossible when thoroughly examined. So many things will go wrong that you will decide that success is something that happens despite your efforts. If your plan is based on everything going right, you will be in real difficulty early. You have to look at failure directly, at everything that might go wrong.
If you conceive a business where everything has to go right, one error, or one mishap can ruin a lot of good work. In the beginning, survival is more important than success. Survival is staying on the field, playing the game, learning the rules, and beginning to grow.
Thanks Paul Hawken for the inspiration!