A constant debate that I get asked about is the importance of research (planning) vs. action (activity). Some situations (and some people) demand significant planning and research before taking any action. There are also some situations that require action before all of the data and planning that would be desired can be completed.
Here’s my rule of thumb – if time and/or competitive pressures are the critical factors then action is most important. Waiting to ‘think out’ a plan while the competition is taking your customers is not a smart thing to do. It would be much more useful to take some action – even if it’s preliminary.
If the decision requires a significant investment or has long-term impact (like hiring people) then planning before action is important. You wouldn’t want to rush into making personnel or dollar commitments without fully understanding the consequences.
So, what it comes down to is this – awareness and competitive response activities require timely actions – sometimes you just have to go for it. Activities that require large dollars, long-term commitments, and/or personnel moves require much more planning.
Understanding when action is the priority and you can have a nimble, aggressive business. Acting when planning is called for may result in lost dollars, poor execution, and a confused business.
Build a checklist for yourself that allows you to determine quickly which approach is correct.