The Plan.

Dwight Eisenhower famously said Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. Today I think rather the opposite is true. As we navigate the disconnection, isolation, disruption and anxiety of today’s pandemic and tomorrow’s shattered economy, I think The Plan is what matters. Let me explain.

As I coach and counsel managers around the industry, they want to know what to tell their teams. When will it be over? Will there be layoffs? Where’s the apex and where’s bottom? Will I be OK? The answer, of course, is that there are no answers. There is only The Plan.

The Plan is not a detailed set of answers and interlocking steps handed down from corporate. There are no dates and no specific odds of success. The Plan is local, a compact between a team leader and those she leads. In the absence of (or in addition to) leadership from above, you form your own plan. And your team rallies around it.

The Plan starts with a clear acknowledgment of the situation: no sugar coating. It also acknowledges what we don’t know and can’t know. Then it pivots to …and here’s what we’re all going to do now. And finally, we agree that The Plan can change. In fact, it probably will. It might sound something like this.

What we are facing today will be twice as hard and last twice as long as any of us think. There are no answers to most of the questions we are asking, nor can we be certain we won’t face losses or change in our organization. All we can be certain of is the choice we make right now. We are choosing action and service and value creation. We can’t know if and when advertiser spending and confidence come back, but we can – and will – be completely certain that we deserve it. Here are the specific sacrifices I’m asking us all to make, and here are the steps we are all going to take to serve our clients and colleagues. Instead of talking about the past or the future, we will now talk about the plan. And we will follow it. Now let’s get started.

The Plan is immediate. It’s about what’s right in front of you...what you’ll do now, for the next 90 minutes. The plan is forward momentum on controlling that which we still control. You serve someone, you have a great hour. Then another. Then a day, then a week.

The Plan is enough. In fact, it’s everything.