Ready, Steady, Don’t Go: Planning is the Key to Success

Perhaps if we changed the dress code...

Perhaps if we changed the dress code…

I’m not usually BIG on heroes, but really admire Rory McIlroy. He’s in a purple patch of form on the golf course. At 25, he has (hopefully) a long career ahead. It’s hard not to be proud of the fact that this tiny island has produced a batch of excellent golfers. We can ‘almost’ claim the world number 1 spot. Sports fans and Gerry Adams have one thing in common; we both want to get rid of that border!

Brilliant Planning: There was a report on the radio highlighting the fact that Rory’s former home (30 minutes from Belfast) is currently available for rent. You can stay there for a week (a snip @ £12,000) or visit on a day trip. The house has an attached golf course with some unusual features. It contains different types of grasses from golf courses around the world – allowing you to practice on the different surfaces. It also has a range of imported sand in the bunkers – representing variations used on golf courses across the globe. With this level of preparation, is it any wonder that the man is world-class? Now, stay with me for a moment as we gravitate towards what might euphemistically be termed lower-end planning.

Proper Gig: We were asked to play a music gig in north county Dublin. I can’t name the venue for fear of years of litigation. We put together an improvised set list and ‘rehearsed’ for about an hour. Hey, we’re all busy and it’s not the day job. Right? On the night, one member of the band was definitely ‘worse for wear’. He kept confusing chords, playing in the wrong key and singing the first verse of each song 7 times. We were using a new PA system which didn’t have enough inputs. I’d brought along a separate amplifier which couldn’t be heard – other than as some form of ‘noise competition’ with the larger PA. It sounded like an overburdened Boeing 747 on take off. The ‘sound’ problems got to me and my own effort on the night was just brutal. But there was hope! Unusually, Linda had come to the gig with her buddy Margaret. She sauntered up to the stage at the break. That’s the exact moment when you need a bit of comfort from your partner, TLC to boost a flagging confidence. What she actually said was: “Jesus, you are shite.”  Earlier in the evening, we’d had a spat so perhaps there was a bit of payback going on. She’s actually suggested that a good movie title for her own life would be: ’30 Years a Slave!’

Quick Rescue: During the break a young guy in the audience (whom I knew from previous gigs) asked if he could play a few tunes. I set him up and encouraged a couple of his mates to take up the role of ‘backing singers’. They bought into it and the crowd loved it. We also recruited a woman who we heard could play guitar and sing solo. A bit of a risk as we’d never met before. She was inspired. Brilliant. Turned the whole event around. We came back on stage and managed to close it out well. Overall the night ended up on the plus side. In reality, we ‘got away with it’. Hey, just don’t tell anyone. OK?

So What? What has all of the above got to do with you? Well, think of Rory McIlroy practising on that sand from Dubai. And think about our band, with the equivalent of 5% of his natural talent, ‘showing up’ and hoping that everything would be grand on the night. In terms of preparing for big ‘events’ are you closer to the Rory model or the bad wedding band? In every executive role, there are a couple of key events each year. Perhaps 3-5. In terms of these, you need to plan your success in advance rather than leaving it to chance – regardless of how talented you are. Planning and rehearsing entails working late or through the weekend. Not all the time – but definitely for those important ‘gigs’. Whatever it takes to nail it.

For sure, not everything can be pre-planned. There are times when we all have to manage on instinct and cope with the unexpected. Mike Tyson said: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” During a recent radio interview I was asked, completely off-topic, about the links between Psychopaths and CEO’s and how many Psychopaths I’d personally met who were in the CEO chair (I couldn’t immediately think of anyone I wanted to name on national radio; perhaps a future blog?).

Yes, hang onto your spontaneity. But being great on your feet is not mutually exclusive from planning. As Abraham Lincoln Said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  Careers are made and lost on big events. Don’t let them slip by you for the want of a drop of planning.


PS If there is an upcoming major event in your life and need a great band (Funerals, Bar Mitzvah’s, your mother-in-law’s 89th) just shout.  We can do a great deal on the fee! You just need to sign a little waiver…

Q: Want to hear some great music? Have a look at the attached clip (suggested by Brendan Moran – terrific musician and all-round good guy).

PPS Lighter Note: The New Parrot (courtesy of the great Kevin Griffin).

A woman walked into a Pet Shop and immediately spotted a large, beautiful parrot. A sign on the cage read €50.00. “Why so little?” she asked the pet store owner. He looked at her and said, “I should tell you that this bird used to live in a house of prostitution. Sometimes it says some pretty vulgar stuff.”

The woman thought about this, but decided she had to have the bird anyway. She took it home and hung the bird’s cage up in her living room and waited for it to say something. The bird looked around the room, then at her, and said,  “New house, new madam.”

The woman was a bit shocked at the implication, but then thought ‘that’s really not so bad.’ When her two teenage daughters returned from school, the bird saw them and said, “New house, new madam, new girls.” The girls and the woman were a bit offended but then began to laugh about the situation considering how and where the parrot had been raised. Moments later, the woman’s husband came home from work. The bird looked at him and said,

“Hi there Larry.”

Check our website or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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