Why don’t Israelis value planning?

The Israeli disdain for planning is legendary. It has been suggested that Israelis know how to extract themselves from situations which they could have avoided via basic foresight. Many Israelis would agree, but planning takes a back seat to doing and fixing it later. Lack of planning is not exactly only a ‘lack”; it is a disdain.

The goal of this post is to suggest root causes as to the cultural preference to do without planning. Following is some standard Israeli logic about planning.

  1. When speed is strategy, planning is seen as a luxury. And in Israel, speed indeed is strategy.
  2. The culture is of risk taking, and punitive measures following failure are relatively rare. So planning is not perceived as a necessity.
  3. Planning is something that “they” should do; then we can outsmart them.
  4. The environment is not predictable; we can only adapt to changes of the world around us, so planning can encourage rigidity.
  5. One needs to do a little bit of planning all the time, The best time to plan is after doing. At that point, some thought can be given to planning. Then, continue doing. Subsequently,  all planning decisions made in planning can be reopened, since all decisions are reversible.
  6. If we plan too much we may become too predicable and transparent, we can be fooled.
  7. Relying on systematic planning is far less reliable that relying on human ingenuity.
  8. Lack of planning can be compensated for by tightly knit team work of high performers and constant and intense communication.

I have worked with countless America, German, Dutch and Canadian managers who have tried to get the Israelis whom they manage to plan more. It is a hard uphill run.

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5 thoughts on “Why don’t Israelis value planning?

  1. אלון.
    יש סיבה נוספת.
    עם שבמשך 2000 שנה היה בגלות. נרדף, פוגרומים וכד’, מפתח ד.נ.א של אילתור ולא של תכנון.אין טעם לתכנןנלטווח ארוך אם מחר בבוקר אתה חייב לברוח כח עומדים לעשות בך פוגרום.
    כשאתה עסוק בהישרדות מתמדת אתה מתכנן לשרוד, זו התוכנית היחידה שיש לך.
    במילים אחרות. המצות בפסח. חייבים לברוח ולשרוד באמצע הלילה.
    אז מצות. לחם מחייב זמן, תכנון, הבשלה, אפייה.
    אין זמן. אז בורחים ולתכנון בישראל יש טעם של מצות.?

  2. On the other hand, there’s the “famous” quote that I’ve seen attribited to a variety of generals, including Eisenhower: When going into battle, plans are useless but planning is indispensable.

  3. Is it a cultural thing? Is it an historical thing? I can understand #6 based on the situations and relations of the area.

    Is this where trump got his strategy?

    Could drive a linear thinker crazy…

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