We fear uncertainty, and we hate fear.
And honestly, we are bad at calculating risk and handling uncertainty. Fear and a clear head do not mix easily.
When we drive a car or do sports, danger is close and split second reactions is coupled with sometimes a well developed ability to analyse the near future - "small road partly covered by bushes coming up on right side, better slow down and keep an eye peeled on it".
Then there are the not-so-imminent-danger areas where I would suggest parenting and economic security are the never ending suppliers of fear. We often have more fear in these imaginary out-of-our-control situations than when having actual brushes with death while mountain climbing or motorcycling.
And it's in the not-so-imminent-danger areas where we most often fail to make the best decisions - "the city is dangerous, better not let the kids go there, rather have them play at the pool". Anybody ever checked the statistical facts on what's more dangerous? Probably not, stern warnings from other parents last night at some dinner party beats real facts.
Economic security spills over in daily work, and business if we're in charge; and that's when the madness becomes a science. Here it's called planning and budgeting, usually following this recipe:
1. Analyse, predict, budget, plan.
2. Set the structure and execute the plans.
Analyse the market, use focus groups and spend advertising budgets accordingly. Extrapolate growth numbers, mix in macro economic factors, procure, build capacity and set the organisational goals. Classic and boilerplate operational template for most businesses. And by the way, authority gets the last word, at the board meeting or like that lady I sat next to last night at the dinner party. Arguments well delivered are grasped with delight when fear is easy to conjure.
Ah, hang on a sec. There's a third step that I forgot, sorry to mention it but:
3. Uncertainty strikes, the unplanned for, the oil price spike, the new competitor, the collapse of some far away currency. And it happens more often than not.
And with that; #1 and #2 becomes completely moot in one fell swoop.
Worse, 1 and 2 are now cement feet, you risk sinking with a huge capacity or marketing campaign investment around your ankles. Goal cannot be reached, bonuses evaporates and moral is sinking.
Allow me to take a lead from the imminent-danger type of situations, the ones where we "feel" we're in control (but alas, only in part).
Say cycling in these days of daily doses of Tour de France images: Look at those guys going down the hills at breakneck speed on 18 mm narrow tires. Planning and budgeting would not do much for these guys, except lots of bike handling experience and choice of good tires (too bad they're all the same though).
Neither would any prediction that states "there is a 88% chance of a right-hander after the left-hander" be of much help. Riders with closed eyes relying on such predictions would make for scary and entertaining TV though.
Nah, it's all about having hands on the handle, eyes wide open and the brain sucking up all input all the time allowing the rider in control to handle the unsuspected.
That's precisely how a business should be run. Full stop.
Real time feedback on internal and external ongoing (eyes), real time benchmarking of competition (understand the other riders) and seamless execution of decisions (handlebar, brakes and derailleurs).
And please, please stay away from the budgets and predictions, a sure-fire way to distract and send you over the rails!
For the processes and their support systems focus on (real!) realtime feedback and (instant!) seamless execution, that'll keep the road rash off your bum.
Trundling down hallways to meetings, flipping through CC'd e-mails, contemplating a conversion of a customer to "prospective" status in CRMs or sucking out data from rigid ERP systems for some spread-sheeting is not for business navigating high speed hairpins. A definite recipe for wipe-out if any of your competitors gets it, and one will one day.
[Bonus thanks to @johndodds: "What, me not worry?". Reminded me that worrying is healthy, fear is bad. Think the cyclist worry a bit, but fear would wipe him out. Suspect that managers often switch from worry to fear though as the link to their economic well being comes into play...]