Paradox: Stay the Course or Bail

I’ve posted before on the paradox of planning, meaning that sometimes you need to stick to the plan, and sometimes you need to revise. And leadership, and management, is knowing how to tell which situation is which. There are no formulas for that. Some things are always case by case, no rules.

I’m reminded of this reading Seth Godin saying “when the new stuff doesn’t work, do the new stuff more and better” from the author of The Dip. That seems like a contradiction. In What to do when the new thing doesn’t work, his post today, Seth says:

From the start, you have to choose a path and stick with it. Either you are on the path of the TV Industrial complex, and you’re prepared to promote and spam and spend and make average stuff for average people… or you are busy embracing the new media for everything it can offer.

In The Dip — a great book — is about knowing when to bail. Be the best or get out.

Sometimes we get discouraged and turn to inspirational writing, like stuff from Vince Lombardi: “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.

Hmm … seems like a contradiction here, but maybe it’s just the built-in paradox that trips us up. Here’s where he brings it together, to my mind; a one-sentence paragraph near the bottom.

Don’t get stuck in the middle. It’s painful.

One of the hardest things we do, in business, is figuring out which is which. To be sung, I suppose, to the tune of the old folk-country song, the gambler: know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.

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Tim Berry, Entrepreneur and Founder of Palo Alto Software, and Borland International About the Author: Tim Berry is president and founder of Palo Alto Software, founder of, and co-founder of Borland International. He is also the author of books and software on business planning including Business Plan Pro and The Plan-as-You-Go Business Plan; and a Stanford MBA. His blog is Planning Startups Stories.



Tim Berry Tim Berry is Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software, Founder of Bplans, Co-Founder of Borland International, Stanford MBA, and co-founder of Have Presence. He is the author of several books and thousands of articles on business planning, small business, social media and startup business.