Businessmen do not always ‘calculate’ before they make decisions, and they do not always ‘decide’ before they act. For they think that they know their business well enough without having to make repeated calculations; and their actions are frequently routine.
What is a plan? Le Breton and Henning (1961:5) offer the following advice to the business decision-maker. ‘[T]he attainment of a given goal will be best achieved by…devising a precise plan’. Previous chapters have identified what prompts this sort of advice, but neither you nor I know what to make of it. Try to follow such advice in daily life, whether in business dealings or at other times, and the difficulty we face is knowing what constitutes a ‘precise’ plan and a ‘given goal’. Indeed, just what are our goals?
It is practical to draw a precise plan of a house, or to make a precise measurement of a table or of the rainfall in winter, and if someone instructed me to do so I would understand what he meant. Like all (social) activities, questions of how detailed the plan should be, or whether the measurements are accurate, are of course matters of interpretation, and there may not be unanimity or even substantial agreement about my interpretation. There may even be discussion about whether something is a desk not a table, and which are the winter months. On the other hand, advice to draw up a precise plan of action, which refers to the individual’s intentions and endeavours and which consequently juxtaposes ‘precision’ with interpretation and understanding, is misleading and probably meaningless. Precision is part of an epistemology-ontology of things that exist in the world and plans are not such things; plans and purposes are understanding. Objectives are not things out there but pertain to my constituted understanding of what to do, because it is worth doing or because it is necessary for me to do.