There’s a value to waiting. Going in unprepared is a recipe for disaster, no matter the field. As explained in a previous post, planning ahead of time can reap great rewards, even if your task is not to guide a spacecraft into orbit around another planet.

Of course, you can wait too long. When your competition passes you by, internal goals are foregone for “perfecting”, and the stagnation of perpetual planning sets in for the long haul.

Like everything else we discuss, where is your happy medium? Great question.

Let’s take a look at one of my favorite examples: Apple.

As before, it doesn’t matter your opinion on their services, devices, or practices. We can all agree they are masters at generating buzz, interest, and profits.

And boy do they wait…and wait.

Nearly half a decade ago, phones running Android began appearing with growing screens. I don’t mean they grew as you used them (though that would be awesome…screen size based on usage patterns…patent it!), rather, they were larger than the standard 3.5” of the iPhone. Manufacturers tried it as an experiment, and customers responded. In a continual back-and-forth, screen size increased, customers adopted it, then the sizes were raised once again. Fast-forward to today, and the largest phones are, for argument’s sake, small tablets. Until the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the iPhone gained only a small vertical increase to 4”. Why?

Well, one reason is that Apple does a revamp of the phone body every 2 years, but also they wanted to be certain the transition was real, and not just a short-term trend. Now they have two options, one in the new “mid-size” range at 4.7” and another in the “gargantuan” slate of 5.5”. Android manufacturers should be worried.

“Yeah, but that was a given, and they were just stubborn before!” You might be right, but they followed public adoption preferences quite closely, and only transitioned when a majority of users would be satisfied.

Let’s look at something less apparent. Consider it your internal planning analogue.

Ever try to read your phone’s screen in the sun while wearing polarized glasses? It’s a pain. The screen dims, loses color, goes all weird…do you make the, “look over your glasses nose scrunch”? I do.

Apple engineers noticed this as well, and set to improve it. They put the time into redesigning a panel in the screen (called a polarizer) to minimize that issue. This improvement alone tells me the device was not rushed through development.

We are in the midst of your annual planning sessions. What are you aiming to achieve for the next year? Do you have checks on progress every few weeks? Even better, do you have small victories you can check off on a regular basis? Are your goals achievable, and do all aspects of your CU have buy-in?

What’s your “polarized glasses make the screen crappy” weakness that you are correcting this year?