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No Plan Survives First Contact With the Enemy

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder? Carl von Clausewitz? Dwight D. Eisenhower? Mike Tyson? Apocryphal?

a good plan never survives first contact

  • No plan survives contact with the enemy.
  • No plan survives first contact with the enemy.

This saying has been attributed to Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke the Elder and Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In 1871 Helmuth von Moltke wrote an essay about military strategy that included a lengthy statement that was essentially equivalent to the concise adage. Here is an excerpt in German followed by an English translation. Boldface added to by QI : [1] 1900, Moltkes Militärische Werke: II. Die Thätigkeit als Chef des Generalstabes der Armee im Frieden. (Moltke’s Military Works: II. Activity as Chief of the Army General Staff in Peacetime) … Continue reading

Kein Operationsplan reicht mit einiger Sicherheit über das erste Zusammentreffen mit der feindlichen Hauptmacht hinaus. Nur der Laie glaubt in dem Verlauf eines Feldzuges die konsequente Durchführung eines im voraus gefaßten in allen Einzelheiten überlegten und bis ans Ende festgehaltenen, ursprünglichen Gedankens zu erblicken. No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the main enemy forces. Only the layman believes that in the course of a campaign he sees the consistent implementation of an original thought that has been considered in advance in every detail and retained to the end.

Over time Moltke’s statement was condensed to yield the currently popular adages.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1900 “The Edinburgh Review” mentioned two different sayings credited to Moltke: [2] 1900 October, The Edinburgh Review, Volume 192, Number 394, The War in South Africa, Start Page 272, Quote Page 282, Longmans, Green, and Company, London. (Google Books Full View) link

‘It is almost impossible,’ wrote Von Moltke, ‘to remedy during a campaign an error in the primary concentration of the troops,’ adding that ‘no plan of operations can with any certainty reach beyond the first encounter with the enemy.’

In 1903 “The Royal Commission on the War in South Africa” included a version of the passage from Moltke: [3] 1903, Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the Royal Commission on the War in South Africa, Volume 2, Date: March 26, 1903, Quote Page 514, Column 2, Printed for His Majesty’s Stationery Office by … Continue reading

May I give you a quotation which Lord Wolseley gave us from Von Moltke. Von Moltke says in the official account of the Franco-German war, page 50, volume 1: “No plan of operations can with any safety include more than the first collision with the enemy’s main body. It is only the laity who believe that they can trace throughout the course of a campaign the prosecution of the original plan arranged beforehand in all its details, and observed to the very close.”

In 1911 the London military periodical “The United Service Magazine” printed another version of the passage with an attribution to Moltke: [4] 1911 July, The United Service Magazine, Volume 43, Number 992, Thoughts On Waterloo by “Denkmal”, Start Page 402, Quote Page 408 and 409, William Clowes & Sons, London. (HathiTrust … Continue reading

“No plan of operations can be at all relied upon beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main force. Only the civilian believes that he can see in the course of a campaign the consequence of an original plan formed beforehand.”

In 1919 “A Complete History of the World War” by W. D. Eaton and Harry C. Read presented a shortened version of the saying: [5] 1919 Copyright, A Complete History of the World War by W. D. Eaton and Sergeant Major Harry C. Read, Volume 3 of 5, Chapter 20: The Hindenburg Drive of 1918, Quote Page 288, (Publisher not specified … Continue reading

Moltke said well, when he gave utterance to his well-known remark on plans of campaign, that no plan can go farther than the first battle; what can be done afterwards depends on the result of the collision.

In 1940 the periodical “Military Review” presented this translation of Moltke: [6] 1940 March, Military Review: Quarterly Review of Military Literature, Volume 20, Number 76, (Filler item), Quote Page 36, Published by Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. … Continue reading

No war plan extends beyond the first military engagement with the hostile main forces. Only the layman believes that the course of the campaign has followed a predetermined course, which has been planned in detail far in advance, and has been clung to tenaciously to the bitter end. —MOLTKE (the elder).

In 1961 “The Desert Generals” by Correlli Barnett contained a concise instance ascribed to Moltke: [7] 1961 (1960 Copyright), The Desert Generals by Correlli Barnett, Part 4: The Image of a General – General Sir Neil Ritchie, Start Page 115, Quote Page 138, The Viking Press, New York. (Verified … Continue reading

. . .Rommel took Moltke’s view that “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. If his plan got him into battle, it was enough. After that, Rommel would fight by ear and eye and tactical sense, like a duellist.

In 1966 “Dictionary of Military and Naval Quotations” edited by Robert Debs Heinl also printed the concise instance: [8] 1966, “Dictionary of Military and Naval Quotations” edited by Robert Debs Heinl, Category: Plans, Quote Page 239, Column 2, United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland. (Verified … Continue reading

No plan survives contact with the enemy. Attributed to Helmuth von Moltke (“The Elder”), 1800-1891

In 1969 “Airborne Carpet: Operation Market Garden” by Anthony Farrar-Hockley attributed a version of the saying to military theorist Carl von Clausewitz: [9] 1969, Airborne Carpet: Operation Market Garden by Anthony Farrar-Hockley, Chapter: Crises and tensions, Quote Page 17, Ballantine Books, New York.(Verified with scans)

But as Clausewitz tells us, no plan survives the first contact of war.

In August 1987 the Associated Press news service published a piece containing the following thematically related quotation from professional boxer Mike Tyson: “Everybody has plans until they get hit for the first time”. A separate article about this saying is available here .

In 2004 a columnist in “The Gazette” of Montreal, Canada tentatively linked an instance to Dwight D. Eisenhower: [10] 2004 March 31, The Gazette, Liberals dance around election promises by Don MacPherson, Quote Page A23, Column 1, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Newspapers_com)

Was it Eisenhower, or some earlier general, who first observed a battle plan never survives contact with the enemy ? And it’s rare the platform on which a government is elected survives contact with reality in the form of public finances.

QI has a separate article about the following thematically similar quotation attributed to Eisenhower: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”.

In conclusion, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder deserves credit for the words he wrote in German in 1871. Several different translations into English of Moltke’s remark about planning have appeared. Over time his remark has been simplified and shortened to yield the popular modern instances.

Image Notes: Public domain illustration from the U.S. Library of Congress depicting a plan of the 1863 Gettysburg battle ground. Created by Charles Wellington Reed in 1864. Image has been cropped and resized.

(Great thanks to Jay Lund whose message led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration. Lund mentioned the Moltke quotation and pointed out the similarity to another quotation that had previously been examined on this website: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”.)

Update History: On October 28, 2021 a crosslink to the Mike Tyson quotation was added.

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Oxford Essential Quotations$

Edited by: Susan Ratcliffe

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Helmuth von Moltke 1800–91 Prussian military commander  

  • No plan of operations reaches with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy's main force. Kriegsgechichtliche Einzelschriften (1880); often quoted as, ‘No plan survives first contact with the enemy’
  • Strategy is a system of expedients; it is more than a mere scholarly discipline. D. J. Hughes (ed.) Moltke on the Art of War (1993) ch. 3
  • War is a necessary part of God's arrangement of the world…Without war the world would deteriorate into materialism. letter to Dr J. K. Bluntschli, 11 December 1880
  • Oxford University Press

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No Plan Survives Enemy Contact: So Why Plan?

Helmuth von Moltke was a Field Marshall and brilliant war strategist in the 19th Century. He first coined the term "no plan survives contact with the enemy". He was absolutely right and his ideas are still used in war planning.

It's just the same in cricket as it is in war. No matter how much you plan, theorise and try to stick to a strategy, the game always takes it's on direction and momentum.

Which begs the question; why bother to plan at all?

All this clever talk of dossiers, analysts and the like are surely a waste of time. Just play the game and adapt as you go: A very civilised version of warfare.

It's not that simple.

And to find out why we need to return to Helmuth von Moltke.

The German was also one of the most meticulous planners in military history.

Rather than ignore the need for planning, he felt that planning and practice was crucial to learn how to react in any given situation. As you can imagine, in war, there are a lot of possibilities.

I'm sure that if he was a 21st Century cricket coach he would be just as thorough in his planning and analysis . Even if he was just coaching a local under 13 team.

Planning without a plan

So what would a von Moltke coaching method look like?

The key is to have a team of players who are trained to be adaptable while sticking to the goal. That means the plan might adjust as the game goes on, but the goal remains the same.

For example, an opening batsman may go in instructed to set a platform for his team with low risk shots early on. He may notice that the opening bowler is nervous and open to exploitation so he plays a death shot the second ball of the first over, sending it sailing over midwicket for six.

AN inflexible player would miss that chance. A player without the confidence to take a calculated risk would have pushed back the good length ball.

Of course, that chance was not left to fate. The batsman has practised hitting length balls. He knew how hard to hit the ball to reach the boundary. He knew the captain and coach were open to a calculated risk. It was a decision taken in the moment but was days, weeks and months in the planning.

Learn from your mistakes

The above is an example of instant decision-making working in your favour. However, there is also failure. That means you need to learn by reviewing your ideas post-match.

Say our batsman had misread the bowler and that shot had gone straight to the keeper. Criticism would have been levelled at his actions.

That's why it's important to quietly revise all these decisions in the light of the team goals. Was it the best idea? If not, what else could we have tried first? What different circumstances could the plan have worked?

Look at both the good and bad decisions made by everyone and try to repeat good plans while avoiding the bad ones.

So yes, the planning process is a pain and can seem pointless when your best laid plan is thrown out when you are 47-4. But situations like that make it all the more important to plan and be confident in yourself and the rest of your team .

It's a simple, effective way to deal with the chaos of contact with the enemy.

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Strategic Planning: Moltke the Elder, Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, and Just a Little Mike Tyson

  • Last updated: September 07 2017 13:18
  • Created: September 07 2017 10:44
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It is not uncommon for analogies to be drawn between business strategy and military strategy. One of my favorite examples is a 2016 article Australian consultant Graham Kenny wrote for Harvard Business Review . In it, he compares strategic planning in business and the military, citing an approach promoted by Moltke the Elder, Dwight Eisenhower, and Winston Churchill

In the article, Kenny explores a planning strategy credited to Helmuth von Moltke (1800–1891). The German field marshal, known as Moltke the Elder, believed in developing a series of options for battle instead of a single plan, saying “No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength.” Today, “no plan survives contact with the enemy” is the popular reconfiguration of this concept.

As Kenny noted, Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower had similar views. Churchill said, “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential,” while Eisenhower said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” Eisenhower further said “…the very definition of ‘emergency’ is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.”

Noted military strategist Mike Tyson also advanced this view of planning with what might be his most famous quote: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

Mike Tyson

Explaining this to a Sun Sentinal reporter years later, Tyson shared that he uttered those famous words before a fight.

“People were asking me, ‘What’s going to happen?’ They were talking about his style. ‘He’s going to give you a lot of lateral movement. He’s going to move. He’s going to dance. He’s going to do this, do that.’ I said, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get hit. Then, like a rat, they stop in fear and freeze.’” It seems to me that Tyson was saying that you can plan all you want, but you’re going to get hit – probably when you don’t expect it - and it’s going to hurt.

Moltke the Elder, Churchill, Eisenhower, and, yes, Mike Tyson all knew that any strategy developed in a constantly changing environment must be regularly assessed and adjusted. They also know that failing to plan regularly is folly, as is stubbornly sticking to one plan or strategy in a changing, unpredictable environment. I have to confess that I’ve worked with boards that exemplify both extremes: not planning enough or focusing too much on the product of strategic planning rather than the process. 

I also have worked with boards that have found a great balance between product and process. Enjoying and embracing the strategic planning process and de-emphasizing the product—or at least the permanence of the product—can lead to a more thoughtful process that increases participation and eliminates the pressure to create the “Magna Carta” of all strategic plans.

Our boards of directors are a world, a lifetime, and a purpose apart from Moltke the Elder, Churchill, Eisenhower, and Mike Tyson. When our boards meet, Moltke the Elder isn’t likely to be discussed, nor, hopefully, are military operations. There may be, however, good thoughtful discussion regarding the changing, unpredictable nature of our current environment and the need to periodically take measure of our environment, re-assess, and re-adjust.

With regard to strategic planning, are you focused on the product, the process, or both?

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Tim Harford > Quotes > Quotable Quote

Tim Harford

“No plan survives first contact with the enemy. What matters is how quickly the leader is able to adapt.”

Recommend to friends friends who liked this quote, 16 likes all members who liked this quote.

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This Quote Is From

Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure

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a good plan never survives first contact

no plan survives contact with the enemy

  • 1.1 Alternative forms
  • 1.2 Pronunciation

English [ edit ]

Alternative forms [ edit ].

  • no battle plan survives contact with the enemy
  • no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy
  • no plan survives first contact with the enemy

Pronunciation [ edit ]

Phrase [ edit ].

  • ( idiomatic ) After a plan against an enemy is drafted , there will be unexpected elements from the opposition that will call for improvisation .
  • 2015 , Jeph Jacques , Questionable Content (webcomic), Number 2933: Game Over Man, Game Over : ‹" No plan survives first contact with the enemy ." Or with a pretty girl in a sundress.›

a good plan never survives first contact

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a good plan never survives first contact

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We provide advice, guidance, support, and information on a wide range of military- and fitness-related topics.

No Plan Survives Contact with the Enemy

Last Updated : 28 February, 2016

1.0     Introduction

“No plan survives contact with the enemy.”

Plans, Trojan Pizza

However, the quotation in its various forms has been accredited to a variety of well-known characters, for example: Colin Powell (US General during the first Gulf War); Dwight D. Eisenhower (a WW2 General); Helmuth von Molkte (a German Field Marshal); The Duke of Wellington (a British General during the Napoleonic wars); Carl von Clausewitz (perennial military theorist); Sun Tzu (The Art of War); and even Napoleon Bonaparte himself (apparently a one-time French bigwig).

In truth they will all have thought, if not said, it to some degree. That quote has at one time or another also been referred to as one of the following: an old military adage; military truism; one of the most basic axioms of modern war; time-honoured military dictum; and Murphy’s Law of combat operations ( currently being  compiled ).

Plans, Dwight D Eisenhower

“Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” (Martin, 2015).

The purpose of this article is to provide some meaning, context, background and history to the quote; it is not intended to be all-encompassing or definitive. Links and access to documents for further reading or more in-depth analysis is provided for this purpose.

“A perfect tactical plan is like a unicorn because anyone can tell you what one looks like, but no one has actually ever seen one.” (Unknown)

2.0     Variations on a Theme

Plans, Tim Harford

  • No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.
  • No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.
  • No battle plan ever survived first contact with the enemy.
  • No plan survives the first shot.
  • No plan survives first contact with the enemy.
  • No plan survives its initial implementation.
  • “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” (Barnett, 1963, p.35).
  • “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” (Detzer, 2005, p.233).

However just like the main quote, all of its variants are just pithy progeny of the original quotation which we can now look at.

3.0     The Moltke Quotation

Plans, No Plan Survives...(German)

The context for Moltke’s quotation is his essay ‘Ueber Strategie’ or On Strategy, written in 1871 as part of Militarische Werke (Military Works). Moltke (1900, p.291-292) wrote:

“The material and moral consequences of every major battle are so far-reaching that they usually bring about a completely altered situation, a new basis for the adoption of new measures. One cannot be at all sure that any operational plan will survive the first encounter with the main body of the enemy. Only a layman could suppose that the development of a campaign represents the strict application of a prior concept that has been worked out in every detail and followed through to the very end.”

Moltke then continues:

“Certainly the commander in chief will keep his great objective continuously in mind, undisturbed by the vicissitudes of events. But the path on which he hopes to reach it can never be firmly established in advance. Throughout the campaign he must make a series of decisions on the basis of situations that cannot be foreseen. The successive acts of war are thus not premeditated designs, but on the contrary are spontaneous acts guided by military measures. Everything depends on penetrating the uncertainty of veiled situations to evaluate the facts, to clarify the unknown, to make decisions rapidly, and then to carry them out with strength and constancy.”

3.1     Variations of the Moltke Quotation

'As military strategists go Duke, you're not exactly Alexander the Great.'

There are a number of variations of Moltke’s quotation, highlighted below, which is, in part, due to how researchers and academics have translated from German to English.

  • “No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength.”
  • “The tactical result of an engagement forms the base for new strategic decisions because victory or defeat in a battle changes the situation to such a degree that no human acumen is able to see beyond the first battle.”
  • “No operations plan will ever extend with any sort of certainty beyond the first encounter with the hostile main force.” (Tsouras, 2000, p.363).
  • “No operation extends with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the main body of the enemy.” (Keyes, n.d.).
  • “[No] plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.” (Keyes, 2006, p.xi).

“‘That will depend on the enemy, sir. They might want to get stuck in all the same, despite our plans. That’s one thing in life the army teaches you early on: the other side doesn’t always play along with the plan.’.” (Scarrow, 2015, p.279).

4.0     Moltke Was Not the First

Although Moltke may have given us the original quotation, the principles behind it where elucidated by other famous characters before him.

Only three personalities are discussed in this section (Carl von Clausewitz, Napoleon Bonaparte and Sun Tzu) because they, through research, are the most closely associated with Moltke’s quote (i.e. they are incorrectly credited with the original quote).

4.1     Carl von Clausewitz

Plans, Nope Says Kitten

As part of his writings, Clausewitz stressed the need to understand a range of diverse factors in the planning and conduct of war, such as how unexpected developments unfolding under the Nebel des Krieges or ‘fog of war’ (though he did not coin the phrase) called for rapid decisions by alert commanders (situational awareness). In fog, Clausewitz (1989, p.101) meant uncertainty:

“War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth.”

0 - Table 1, Definition of Terms

Clausewitz then goes on to state (1989, p.101-102):

“War is the realm of chance. No other human activity gives it greater scope: no other has such incessant and varied dealings with this intruder. Chance makes everything more uncertain and interferes with the whole course of events. Since all information and assumptions are open to doubt, and with chance at work everywhere, the commander continually finds that things are not as he expected. This is bound to influence his plans, or at least the assumptions underlying them. If this influence is sufficiently powerful to cause a change in his plans, he must usually work out new ones; but for these the necessary information may not be immediately available. During an operation, decisions have usually to be made at once: there may be no time to review the situation or even to think it through. Usually, of course, new information and reevaluation are not enough to make us give up our intentions: they only call them into question. We now know more, but this makes us more, not less uncertain. The latest reports do not arrive all at once: they merely trickle in. They continually impinge on our decisions, and our mind must be permanently armed, so to speak, to deal with them.”

Clausewitz (1989, p.103) also talked about ‘presence of mind’ in which he stated:

“This must play a great role in war, the domain of the unexpected, since it is nothing but an increased capacity of dealing with the unexpected.”

Prior to writing ‘On War’, Clausewitz had written an essay (in 1812) for his pupil, the sixteen year old Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm (later King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, r.1840 to 1858) whose military tutor he had become in 1810. The essay was titled: Die wichtigsten Grundsätze des Kriegführens zur Ergänzung meines Unterrichts bei Sr. Königlichen Hoheit dem Kronprinzen or The most important principles of the art of war to complete my course of instruction for his Royal Highness the Crown Prince. However, the essay is historically referred to as the Principles of War.

Plans, Balloon

In the essay Clausewitz (2003, p.63-64) states:

“We must, therefore, be confident that the general measures we have adopted will produce the results we expect. [and] If we have made appropriate preparations, taking into account all possible misfortunes, so that we shall not be lost immediately if they occur, we must boldly advance into the shadows of uncertainty.”

Plans, Aldous Huxley

According to Beatrice Heuser (2002, p.89), Clausewitz “…wrote that no war plan outlasts the first encounter with the enemy, a view that was echoed by Moltke.” However, Terence Holmes (2007, p.129) argues “That is indeed a well-known opinion of Field Marshal Count Helmuth von Moltke’s, but it is not a quotation from Clausewitz.” Clausewitz, from the books I have read, certainly did not originate the quote, Moltke did. However, after reading Clausewitz’s On War and the Principles of War, I can see the foundations being laid for Moltke’s quote.

4.2     Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and its associated wars. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, and again in 1815.

“Je n’ai jamais eu un plan d’opérations.” (Chandler, 2009, p.134).

Plans, Happy Outcome

There are a plethora of quotes, supposedly, attributed to Napoleon which can be linked to our main quote. However, the problem for me is that they are uncited and perennially duplicated across the internet (as if that makes them real and true). Anyway, below is a mix of cited and uncited quotations.

  • “Forethought we may have, undoubtedly, but not foresight.”
  • “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.”
  • “The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one’s self to destiny.”
  • “Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.”
  • “If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks, glory would become the prey of mediocre minds …[and]… I have made all the calculations; fate will do the rest.” Statement at the beginning of the 1813 campaign, as quoted in The Mind of Napoleon (1955, p.45) translated by J. Christopher Herold.
  • “The laws of circumstance are abolished by new circumstances.” (Bonaparte, 1916, p.48).
  • “A commander in chief ought to say to himself several times a day: If the enemy should appear on my front, on my right, on my left, what would I do? And if the question finds him uncertain, he is not well placed, he is not as he should be, and he should remedy it.” (Bonaparte, 1916, p.118).
  • “In war, theory is all right so far as general principles are concerned; but in reducing general principles to practice there will always be danger. Theory and practice are the axis about which the sphere of accomplishment revolves. (Bonaparte, 1916, p.124).

4.3     Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who lived in ancient China (544BC to 496BC). He is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, an extremely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy. Sun Tzu has had a significant impact on Chinese and Asian history and culture, both as the author of The Art of War and as a legendary historical figure.

Plans, Estimates & Inputs

In the Art of War as translated by Lionel Giles, Sun Tzu provides the reader with two statements that can be associated with Moltke’s quote:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” (Sun Tzu, 2009, p.10).

“The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: How much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.” (Sun Tzu, 2009, p101).

4.4     Modern Application

Elizabeth Knowles, in her 2006 (p.n.k.) book What They Didn’t Say: A Book of Misquotations, provides us with a modern twist of Moltke’s quotation:

“No plan survives first contact with the enemy: A piece of military wisdom deriving from a formulation by the nineteenth-century Prussian military commander Helmuth van Moltke. He wrote in 1880, “No plan of operations reaches with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main force.” The warning has been further modified, as in Sean Naylor’s article on Operation Anaconda (the hunt for Osama bin Laden) in Afghanistan, published in the New York Times of March 2003: “That the operation didn’t go as planned is no disgrace. It is a cliché that no plan survives the first shot fired, but it is no less true for being one.”

I also found this quotation by Mike Tyson (Berardino, 2012) which I think is quite amusing:

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

An article on the origins of the quote can be found here .

5.0     Factors Affecting Moltke’s Quotation

Plans, Open or Closed

  • Intention (both political and military).
  • Structure, strength and disposition of offensive and defensive assets.
  • Capabilities.
  • Logistical strength.
  • Strategic modelling and data derived from open-source intelligence.
  • Accuracy of ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) picture.
  • Effects of counter-intelligence (active deception, subversion and/or electronic attack on communications).
  • Ability of adversary intelligence to present a superior picture allowing one’s own decision-making cycle to be compromised.
  • Weather and meteorological aspects.
  • Terrain (mode of transport, terrain to cross, distance etc.).
  • Up to date information on structure, strength, capabilities and disposition of own offensive and defensive assets.
  • Unreported material deficiencies or concerns (which can lead to an optimistic view of own capabilities).
  • Own directive uncertainty emanating from the grand strategic or military strategic levels (i.e. the commander not having the full sight/grasp of the strategic imperative).
  • Delays in communication at the tactical or operational level, and the ebb and flow of own force, and adversary force, interaction.

a good plan never survives first contact

The practical application of uncertainty is most easily demonstrated in the tactical battlespace. It may include a military commander’s incomplete or inaccurate intelligence about the adversary’s numbers, disposition, capabilities, intent, features of the battlefield, and incomplete knowledge of the state of their own forces. Uncertainty can be caused by the limits of reconnaissance, by the adversary’s feints/deceptions and disinformation, by delays in receiving intelligence and difficulties in passing orders, and by the difficult task of forming a cogent picture from a very large (or very small) amount of diverse data.

When a force engages in combat and the urgency for good intelligence increases, so does uncertainty and the chaos of the battlefield, while military units become preoccupied with fighting or are lost (either destroyed by enemy fire or literally lose their way), reconnaissance and liaison elements become unavailable, the minimum distance for effective communication increases, and sometimes real fog and smoke obscure vision (hence obscuring communication).

More on uncertainty can be found in the Useful Documents section.

6.0     Contrasting Quotation

“Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”

a good plan never survives first contact

Colloquially known, to me, in the military as the 7Ps (or the 6Ps if one omits the colourful metaphor!), it means that commanders have to make some sort of plan for what they are going to do; the level of military planning depending on job role and time constraints.

For example, Western military organisations utilise the NATO Orders Process for the production of an operational plan (or orders) and this incorporates the use of the abbreviated term SOPs (or standard operating procedures) when issuing those orders.

However, SOPs can be mean different things to different people and they are also contextual. For example, the SOP for encountering a numerically superior adversary is different from that of a numerically inferior adversary; numerically superior/inferior being contextual based on the size of your own force (amongst other factors).

Further, a commander’s interpretation of the various factors identified in the previous section will also have an impact on the formulation of their plan and subsequent SOPs. Moltke understood that military planning was an important process in the preparation (and conduct) of war, and understanding one’s adversary or adversaries and their strengths, weaknesses and likely courses of action was a military imperative. Analysis by military historians would suggest that he managed to do this pretty well! (Gorlitz, 1953; Zabecki, 2008a).

7.0     Collaborative Planning and Situation Awareness

Plans, Plan First

Another element to mix into the pot of collaborative planning and situation awareness is lessons learned (post-operation); probably best analogised as reflection to non-military readers.

George Santayana (16 December 1863 to 26 September 1952), who was a philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist, is well-known for the following quote (which also enjoys a number of variations) (Santayana & Project Gutenberg, 2005):

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it .”

However, as is the way of words, someone else said it earlier. Edmund Burke (12 January 1729 to 09 July 1797), a British statesman and philosopher, wrote (Burke & Project Gutenberg, 2013):

“In history a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.”

Burke is also credited, on a number of websites, with the following quote (although I have yet to find a credible source): “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” This is often attributed to Mark Twain and its origin is subject to debate (Quote Investigator, 2014; Wikipedia, 2014).

Playing devil’s advocate, Burke is also alleged to have written the following to a Member of the National Assembly in 1791 (Wikipedia, 2015):

“You can never plan the future by the past.”

I suspect the best (or at least well-known) example of this collaboration of prior planning and future guesswork is D-Day on 06 June 1945, aka Operation Overlord. The preparation for D-Day was undertaken, in some form, over a period of years and comprehensive plans were drawn up (Zabecki, 2008b). A critical element of the plan concerned German resistance, as the Germans had created a fortified line of defence across Northern France. On D-Day it became apparent that some elements of the plan regarding resistance were way out; on some beaches soldiers literally strolled across the beach with no Germans in sight whilst on other beaches soldiers where ‘bogged down’ for days and the casualty toll was horrendous.

a good plan never survives first contact

The current iteration of collaborative planning and situation awareness, for the Americans, is known as the Adaptive Planning and Execution (APEX) enterprise (CJCS, 2015; Santacroce, 2015), which is a “…family of documents [that] provide the standard policies and procedures to plan for and execute military activities.” (CJCS, 2015, p.A-1).

When analysing the APEX framework it is worth noting that situation awareness is, from the American perspective, one of four operational activities for commanders to appreciate (the other three being planning, execution and assessment).

8.0     Summary

Who said what quote is largely academic and (somewhat) irrelevant, the meaning behind them is the important point. If a commander lacks appreciation for their own forces, their adversary’s capabilities and intent, the chance of the quote being realised is greatly enhanced.

Plans, Kids

Planning prior to an operation is important to ensure the right personnel and materials etc. are in the right position, but so is adapting to the situation on the ground once the operation starts. Finally, learning lessons from history is essential otherwise a commander will end up making the same mistake as Napoleon and Hitler!

9.0     Useful Documents, Links and References

9.1     useful documents.

  • On War Without the Fog (Kiesling, 2001) , who talks about Clausewitz’s use of the words fog and friction.
  • Fog of War, Effects of Uncertainty on Airpower Employment (Shepherd, 1997) .
  • British Army Doctrine Publication, Operations (2010-12) .
  • Joint Doctrine Publication 04, Understanding (2010-12) .
  • JSP 912 – Human Factors Integration for Defence Systems, v2i (2013-06-25) .
  • Combat Situation Awareness… (Murray et al, 2010) .
  • Friction, Chaos & Orders – Clauswitz, Boyd & Command Approaches (Samuels, 2014) .
  • Military Psychology, Situation Awareness (Kass, 2009) .
  • Napoleon, In his Own Words (Napoleon, 1916) .
  • On War, Chapter 1 & 8 (Clausewitz, 1989) .
  • Planning versus Chaos in Clausewitz’s On War (Holmes, 2007) .
  • Preparing Soldiers for Uncertainty (Due et al., 2015) .
  • Principles of War (Clausewitz, 1812) .
  • Simulating the Fog of War (Setear, 1989) .
  • Sensemaking, Final Report (Leedom, 2001) .
  • Measurement of Situation Awareness In A C4ISR Experiment (French & Hutchinson, 2002) .
  • Organizing Ambiguity, A Grounded Theory of Leadership & Sensemaking within Dangerous Contexts (Bran & Scott, 2010) .
  • Functional Analysis of the Next Generation Common Operating Picture (Leedom, n.d.) .
  • Operational Risk Management (Marine Corps Institute, 2002) .
  • Situational Awareness (Data) Bases in Military Command & Control (Sandor, 2004) .
  • Microblogging During Two Natural Hazards Events:  What Twitter May Contribute to Situational Awareness (Vieweg et al., 2010) .
  • Chapter 2 The Evolving Definition of Cognitive Readiness for Military Operations (Fletcher & Wind, 2014) .
  • An Empirical Study of the Relationship between Situation Awareness & Decision Making (Stanners & French, 2005) .
  • Coordinated Awareness of Situation by Teams (Gorman et al., 2006) .
  • Recent Human Factors Contributions to Improve Military Operations (Andrews et al., 2003) .
  • A Human Factors Approach to Analysing Military Command & Control (Walker et al., 2010) .
  • Adaptive Planning & Execution Overview & Policy Framework (JCS, 2015-05-29) .

9.2     Useful Links and Other Stuff

  • Military Operations Research Society (MORS): http://www.mors.org/
  • The Journal of Military Operations (TJOMO): https://www.tjomo.com/
  • The Centre for Law and Military Operations (CLAMO): http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/CLAMO.html
  • Clausewitz Dedicated website: http://www.clausewitz.com .
  • McKay, B. & McKay, K. (2015) How to Develop the Situational Awareness of Jason Bourne. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2015/02/05/how-to-develop-the-situational-awareness-of-jason-bourne/ . [Accessed: 05 September, 2015].
  • Adaptive Planning and Execution (APEX) for U.S. Joint Forces Command: http://www.icfi.com/insights/projects/defense/adaptive-planning-and-execution-for-us-joint-forces-command .
  • BOOK: ‘Embracing the Fog of War: Assessment and Metrics in Counterinsurgency’ by Ben Connable (2012, RAND Corporation).
  • PPT: ‘Closing the Gap between Strategic Development and Strategic Execution’ by Richard Rierson. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.slideshare.net/WMCCCommunications/closing-the-gap-between-strategic-development-strategic-execution-by-richard-rierson . [Accessed: 08 September, 2015].
  • ‘Efficient Effects-based Military Planning’ sponsored by the Army Research Office. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.ecse.rpi.edu/~cvrl/EBO/ebo.htm . [Accessed: 08 September, 2015].

9.3     References

Barnett, C. (1963) The Swordbearers: Studies in Supreme Command in the First World War . London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.

Berardino, M. (2012) Mike Tyson Explains One Of His Most Famous Quotes . Available from World Wide Web: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-11-09/sports/sfl-mike-tyson-explains-one-of-his-most-famous-quotes-20121109_1_mike-tyson-undisputed-truth-famous-quotes . [Accessed: 04 September, 2015].

Bonaparte, N. & Herold, J.C. (trans) (1955) The Mind of Napoleon: A Selection from His Written and Spoken Words Edited and Translated by J. Christopher Herold . Columbia: Columbia University Press.

Bonaparte, N., Law, H.E. & Rhodes, C.L. (trans) (1916) Napoleon: In His Own Words . Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co.

Burke, E. & Project Gutenberg. (2013) Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke: Moral of History . Available from World Wide Web: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/3286/pg3286.txt . [Accessed: 07 September, 2015].

Cambridge Dictionaries Online (2015a) Certainty . Available from World Wide Web: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/certainty . [Accessed: 05 September, 2015].

Cambridge Dictionaries Online (2015b) Uncertain . Available from World Wide Web: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/uncertain?q=uncertainty . [Accessed: 05 September, 2015].

Cambridge Dictionaries Online (2015c) Confusion . Available from World Wide Web: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/confusion . [Accessed: 05 September, 2015].

Chandler, D.G. (2009) The Campaigns of Napoleon: The Mind and Method of History’s Greatest Soldier . London: Simon and Schuster.

CJCS (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) (2015) CJCS Guide 3130: Adaptive Planning and Execution Overview and Policy Framework . Available from World Wide Web: http://www.dtic.mil/cjcs_directives/cdata/unlimit/g3130.pdf . [Accessed: 05 September, 2015].

Clausewitz, C. von. (2003) Principles of War . Dover Edition. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

Clausewitz, C. von., Howard, M. & Paret, P. (eds and trans) (1989) On War . Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Detzer, D. (2005) Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 . Fort Washington, PA: Harvest Books.

Dilworth, R.L. & Maital, S. (2008) Fogs of War and Peace: A Midstream Analysis of World War III . Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Due, J., Finney, N. & Byerly, J. (2015) Preparing Soldiers for Uncertainty . Military Review. January-February 2015, pp.26-30.

Goerlitz, W. (1953) History of the German General Staff, 1657-1945 . Westport, CT: Preager.

Gorman, J.C., Cooke, N.J. & Winner, J.L. (2006) Measuring Team Situation Awareness in Decentralized Command and Control Environments. Ergonomics . 49(12-13), pp.1312-1325.

Hale, L.A. (1896) The Fog of War . London: Edward Stanford.

Heuser, B. (2002) Reading Clausewitz . London: Pimlico.

Kass, S. (2009) Military Psychology: Situation Awareness . Available from World Wide Web: http://uwf.edu/skass/documents/Milpsy_situationawareness_000.ppt . [Accessed: 05 September, 2015].

Keyes, R. (2006) The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When . New York: Griffin.

Keyes, R. (n.d.) The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When . Available from World Wide Web: http://www.ralphkeyes.com/quote-verifier/ . [Accessed: 02 September, 2015].

Knowles, E. (2006) What They Didn’t Say: A Book of Misquotations . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Martin, G. (2015) Nothing is Certain but Death and Taxes . Available from World Wide Web: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/death-and-taxes.html. [Accessed: 08 September, 2015].

Moltke, H. von. (1900) Militarische Werke , ed. Großer Generalstab, Abteilung fur Kriegsgeschichte I, Vol. II, 2, Moltkes taktischstrategische Aufsa¨ tze aus den Jahren 1857 bis 1871. Berlin: Mittler.

Murray, S.A., Ensign, W., Yanagi, M. & SSC Pacific. (2010) Combat Situation Awareness (CSA) Model-Based Characterizations of Marine Corps Training and Operations . Technical Report 1994. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA535225 . [Accessed: 05 September, 2015].

Quote Investigator. (2014) History Does Not Repeat Itself, But It Rhymes . Available from World Wide Web: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/01/12/history-rhymes/ . [Accessed: 07 September, 2015].

Riley, J.M., Endsley, M.R., Bolstad, C.A. & Cuevas, H.M. (2006) Collaborative Planning and Situation Awareness in Army Command and Control. Ergonomics . 49(12-13), pp.1139-1153.

Santacroce, M.A. (2015) Joint/Interagency SMARTbook 1 – Joint Strategic and Operational Planning: Planning for Planners . Lakeland, FL: The Lightning Press.

Santayana, G. & Project Gutenberg (2005) The Life of Reason: Volume 1, Reason in Common Sense, Chapter XII, Flux and Constancy in Human Nature . Available from World Wide Web: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/15000/pg15000.txt . [Accessed: 07 September, 2015].

Scarrow, S. (2015) Britannia . London: Headline Publishing Group.

Setear, J.K. (1989) Simulating the Fog of War . Available from World Wide Web: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/papers/2008/P7511.pdf . [Accessed: 04 September, 2015].

Tsouras, P.G. (2000) The Greenhill Dictionary of Military Quotations . London: Greenhill Books.

Tzu, S. & Giles, L. (trans) (2009) The Art of War by Sun Tzu – Classic Collector’s Edition: Includes The Classic Giles and Full Length Translations . El Paso, Texas: El Paso Norte Press.

Wikipedia. (2014) Talk:History . Available from World Wide Web: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:History . [Accessed: 07 September, 2015].

Wikipedia. (2015) Edmund Burke . Available from World Wide Web: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Edmund_Burke . [Accessed: 07 September, 2015].

Zabecki, D.T. (ed.) (2008a) Chief of Staff: The Principal Officers Behind History’s Great Commanders: Volume 1, Napoleonic Wars to World War I . Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.

Zabecki, D.T. (ed.) (2008b) Chief of Staff: The Principal Officers Behind History’s Great Commanders: Volume 2, World War II to Korea and Vietnam . Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.

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Ralph Keyes

The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When

The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When

In the early stages of the Iraq war, variations on this quotation were ubiquitous: “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”  That thought was usually attributed to Dwight David Eisenhower.  Or did Napoleon say it?  George Patton perhaps?  No one seemed sure.  The observation actually originated with Helmuth Von Moltke in the mid-nineteenth century.  Von Moltke’s version was not so felicitous, however:  “No operation extends with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the main body of the enemy.” In a process that’s routine in the world of quotation, the Prussian field marshal’s actual words were condensed into a pithier comment over time, then placed in more familiar mouths.

The Quote Verifier discusses quotations like Von Moltke’s that are easy to cite but hard to confirm. Whenever possible it gives the correct wording and attribution of hundreds of quotations, old and new, whose origins are unclear.  The Quote Verifier examines not only classic misquotes such as “War is hell,” and “Play it again, Sam,” but more surprising ones such as “”Ain’t I a woman?” and “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

The Quote Verifier also explores popular quotations of uncertain origin, such as “The opera ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings,” “No one on his deathbed ever said he wished he’d spent more time at the office,” and “Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small.”

For ease of use, the body of the book’s text is in dictionary form.  A brief discussion takes each quotation  as far back as possible to its original form, give credit where due, and expose quote thieves.  The correct wording of every quotation is given, whenever available, and our best knowledge as to who said it first.

The book’s introduction explores why we get so many quotations wrong.  One reason is that misquotes routinely improve on real quotes.  Bad memory can be a good editor.  Since quotations are most useful when they come from famous mouths, misattribution is routine.  This is due in large part to the “sounds like” syndrome, in which much-quoted figures such as Lincoln, Churchill, and Dorothy Parker are credited with comments they never made because these “sound like” them.  It also helps that such figures are not around the correct the record.  As a result, famous dead people make excellent commentators on current events.

Boxed sidebars break up the book’s text.  Some are mini-profiles of frequently misquoted figures such as Wilde, Shaw, Twain, and Yogi Berra.  Others discuss specific genres of misquotation: spurious “last words,” for example, and startling bad predictions that were never made.

The Quote Verifier is an invaluable resource to those who are at regular risk of getting their quotations wrong and might rather get them right: politicians, speechmakers, authors, journalists, and scholars.  For anyone interested in the actual origins of our words we commonly use, it is an informative, eye-opening book.

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No Plan Survives First Contact With Customers – Business Plans versus Business Models

No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy Field Marshall Helmuth Graf von Moltke

I was catching up with an ex-graduate student at Café Borrone , my favorite coffee place in Menlo Park. This was the second of three “office hours” I was holding that morning for ex students. He and his co-founder were both PhD’s in applied math who believe they can make some serious inroads on next generation search. Over coffee he said, “I need some cheering up.  I think my startup is going to fail even before I get funded.” Now he had my attention. I thought his technology was was potentially a killer app. I put down my coffee and listened.

He said, “After we graduated we took our great idea, holed up in my apartment and spent months researching and writing a business plan. We even entered it in the business plan competition. When were done we followed your advice and got out of the building and started talking to potential users and customers.” Ok, I said, “What’s the problem?” He replied, “Well the customers are not acting like we predicted in our plan!  There must be something really wrong with our business. We thought we’d take our plan and go raise seed money. We can’t raise money knowing our plan is wrong.”

I said, “Congratulations, you’re not failing, you just took a three and a half month detour.”

Here’s why.

No Plan Survives First Contact With Customers These guys had spent 4 months writing a 60-page plan with 12 pages of spreadsheets. They collected information that justified their assumptions about the problem, opportunity, market size, their solution and competitors and their team, They rolled up a 5-year sales forecast with assumptions about their revenue model, pricing, sales, marketing, customer acquisition cost, etc. Then they had a five-year P&L statement, balance sheet, cash flow and cap table. It was an exquisitely crafted plan. Finally, they took the plan and boiled it down to 15 of the prettiest slides you ever saw.

The problem was that two weeks after they got out of the building talking to potential customers and users, they realized that at least 1/2 of their key assumptions in their wonderfully well crafted plan were wrong.

Why a business plan is different than a business model As I listened, I thought about the other startup I had met an hour earlier. They also had been hard at work for the last 3½ months. But they spent their time differently. Instead of writing a full-fledged business plan, they had focused on building and testing a business model .

A business model describes how your company creates, delivers and captures value. It’s best understood as a diagram that shows all the flows between the different parts of your company. This includes how the product gets distributed to your customers and how money flows back into your company. And it shows your company’s cost structures, how each department interacts with the others and where your company can work with other companies or partners to implement your business.

a good plan never survives first contact

This team didn’t spend a lot of time justifying their assumptions because they knew facts would change their assumptions. Instead of writing a formal business plan they took their business model and got out of the building to gather feedback on their critical hypotheses (revenue model, pricing, sales, marketing, customer acquisition cost, etc.) They even mocked up their application and tested landing pages, keywords, customer acquisition cost and other critical assumptions. After three months they felt they had enough preliminary customer and user data to go back and write a PowerPoint presentation that summarized their findings .

This team had wanted to have coffee to chat about which of the four seed round offers they had received they should accept.

A plan is static, a model is dynamic Entrepreneurs treat a business plan, once written as a final collection of facts. Once completed you don’t often hear about people rewriting their plan. Instead it is treated as the culmination of everything they know and believe.  It’s static.

a good plan never survives first contact

“So do you mean I should never have written a business plan?” asked the founder who had spent the time crafting the perfect plan. “On the contrary,” I said. “Business plans are quite useful. The writing exercise forces you to think through all parts of your business. Putting together the financial model forces you to think about how to build a profitable business. But you just discovered that as smart as you and your team are, there were no facts inside your apartment.  Unless you have tested the assumptions in your business model first, outside the building, your business plan is just creative writing. ”

(Next post: Iterating the Business Model – The Pivot.)

Lessons Learned

A startup is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. There are no facts inside your building, so get outside and get some. Draw and test the Business Model first, the Business Plan then follows. Few if any investors read your business plan to see if they’re interested in your business They’re a lot more interested in what you learned

a good plan never survives first contact

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a good plan never survives first contact

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Filed under: Business Model versus Business Plan , Corporate/Gov't Innovation , Customer Development , Customer Development Manifesto |

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a good plan never survives first contact

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  1. "No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy." Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, Prussian

    a good plan never survives first contact

  2. Lois McMaster Bujold Quote: “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. Not when the

    a good plan never survives first contact

  3. Typorama

    a good plan never survives first contact

  4. Lois McMaster Bujold Quote: “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. Not when the

    a good plan never survives first contact

  5. Carl von Clausewitz quote: No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy

    a good plan never survives first contact

  6. Steve Blank Quote: “No business plan survives first contact with customers.”

    a good plan never survives first contact


  1. Plan, but be prepared to adapt. No plan survives contact with the enemy

  2. Good Plan, BAD RNG (Front Mission 3)

  3. The Never Ending Downfall of Everton

  4. Deadpool ke Villain ka asli naam kya tha ??? #shorts #deadpool #marvel

  5. Space Engineers Survival 2023: Two big steps back

  6. Moltke Tactical Problem 31


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  3. How Do Lions Survive?

    Lions survive by sticking together in groups referred to as prides, which can have as many as three males and an average of 12 females and their adolescents.

  4. No Plan Survives First Contact With the Enemy

    This saying has been attributed to Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke the Elder and Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz. Would you

  5. Helmuth von Moltke

    Helmuth von Moltke 1800–91. Prussian military commander. No plan of operations reaches with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy's main

  6. No Plan Survives Enemy Contact: So Why Plan?

    Helmuth von Moltke was a Field Marshall and brilliant war strategist in the 19th Century. He first coined the term "no plan survives contact with the enemy"

  7. Strategic Planning: Moltke the Elder, Dwight Eisenhower, Winston

    ... first encounter with the enemy's main strength.” Today, “no plan survives contact with the enemy” is the popular reconfiguration of this concept. As Kenny

  8. Quote by Tim Harford: “No plan survives first contact with the enemy

    Tim Harford — 'No plan survives first contact with the enemy. What matters is how quickly the leader is able to adapt.'

  9. Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

    No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. As

  10. no plan survives contact with the enemy

    (idiomatic) After a plan against an enemy is drafted, there will be unexpected elements from the opposition that will call for improvisation. · (broadly) Even

  11. No Plan Survives Contact with the Enemy

    It is a cliché that no plan survives the first shot fired, but it is no less true for being one.” I also found this quotation by Mike Tyson (

  12. The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When

    In the early stages of the Iraq war, variations on this quotation were ubiquitous: “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” That thought was usually

  13. Military Strategy Lessons For Unpredictable Times

    The full quote is, "No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy's main strength." This is far more

  14. Steve Blank No Plan Survives First Contact With Customers

    Adapting von Moltke's observation that “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy” for a startup you might say that no startup's