Planning I – Why You Should Always Plan Ahead

Before I begin, a quick storytime –

Immediately after I graduated from school, I started working as a junior consultant at Price Waterhouse (nowadays known as PwC). I was assigned to a World Bank project. One of the public institutions requested a loan from the World Bank. The bank put certain conditions in the deal to ensure the loan they gave would not be wasted. They wanted the consultancy firm to guide where the money would be spent on administrative and technical issues.

The team I worked for was responsible for structuring the organization and the accounting department. The public institution side was looking at this project from the perspective of “let them finish their job, just give the money and go”. In their eyes, we were in the position of “a process that must be endured before getting the money”.

I witnessed a particular moment between the Head of the Research, Planning & Coordination (RPC) Department, and the Expert Consultant.

The consultant managing the administrative part of the project team was a world-renowned “grandmaster”, or what we would today call a “guru” 🙂 . I was responsible for monitoring the interviews, translation, and publishing in Turkish and English.

I was constantly walking around with this guru, taking note of everything he said.

The guru wanted to learn the planning process of this public institution. The Head of the RPC Department immediately started to complain:

The exchange rates are constantly changing … The inflation rate is uncertain … The prices of raw materials are variable … The public policies are unpredictable … Everything is so uncertain that we cannot plan.

As a new graduate, these seemed to be true to me as well.

The guru said something that I never forgot years later.

If everything is certain, there is no need to plan. Anyone who can flow with the stream doesn’t need to plan where to go. Planning is a tool to reduce uncertainty.

I never forgot this, and neither should you!

Planning, if done right, is a tool to reduce uncertainty, not a process that must be endured once or twice a year.

He who fails to plan is planning to fail

I often remember two quotes from Winston Churchill

“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential”

“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”

I remember those phrases especially when I hear the phrase “We are a flexible company”. That is a sentence of those who constantly change their decisions due to a lack of planning.

Flexibility means examining market changes and making quick decisions to change strategy when necessary. If we have already set our goals correctly, we will not change them often, but we can use many tactics in the process.

Budget is not an end but a means. Do not confuse means with purpose. If there are new creative opportunities, don’t turn it down right away by saying “Not in the budget”.

When you are talking with your contractors, if you say “very urgent” or “asap” or “yesterday should have been over,” it is hard to say all, but you are probably guilty of most of it.

This article was originally posted on Wizardy Budgets

Graduation project

I express my expectations to students who want to prepare their graduation project with me:

  • Making projects with students who I have never met and who have not taken my lesson is not a practice I like very much. In order to ease the workload of other faculty members, I accept those who want to do a marketing thesis. In this condition, I prefer to meet with the project students one-on-one even if it is a distance education. (“I have decided on a subject. I chose you as a thesis instructor. Let’s get started” style approaches are not appreciated.)
  • I require the student to do a study that will be useful for him/her and the institution she/he works for. When choosing a topic, the student should act together with the institution she/he work with and to work in the direction that the institution needs. In this direction, I have expectations such as receiving support from the institution and using institutional data.
  • I do not accept any project with “copy-past” intention. If there will not be your direct contribution, let’s not work together.
  • First of all, I don’t want to get a graduation thesis if there is less than 6 months. (Due to the implementation of YÖK, I now accept it for 3 months. But…) I am positive not for a thesis like a simple student assignment, but for a study that both the student and I will be proud of. I do not listen to and do not accept the stories of the students who left the whole thesis to the last term “I had a lot of work, you know what happened to me, the company does not allow us anyway, etc.“.
  • When we agree on the subject of the thesis, we need to start discussing that the student has prepared something about the content [at least the outline] within two weeks and how we can turn this content into a final thesis.
  • Thus, both the backbone and the content of the thesis become clear. Then I want to be reported regularly. In addition, I talk and direct about the progress of the thesis.

These are my “must-haves”. I want these conditions both because I took lessons from my past experiences and because I do not want to hear the story, “I was going to finish the school, but Uğur Özmen did not pass my thesis“.


See some testimonials:

An MBA participant’s request:

Ugur Hocam;

I took a digital transformation course from you last semester as part of the MBA program.

I may have done the worst homeworks of the period, perhaps the lessons you have taught so far. I do not want it to stay that way.

Before the end of the school, I want to make use of your comments, which destroy the feeling that «this is a great homework, I think it was very good» in the student’s mind.


Another comment:

I remember 2011 just like yesterday.

While I was preparing for your exam, I saw an article on your web page. Then I showed you what I expect with the project. I asked you “Should we do final project together?” When I said this, Şule hoca said, “Are you crazy? It is very difficult to make a project with Uğur ”. After all, in all my different school experiences, the best was with you.

In the meantime, the project had provided the company with a benefit close to a million TL with its current value.


Do I want so many things? I think YES… When I look at the responses sent after my comments, I say CONTINUE SAME. When I look at the results of those who completed their theses, I think I did well.


Note: You may see some of the final projects at the final part of that article