The Business of Creativity

Houchin Consulting PLLC

The No-Plan Plan

Posted on | April 10, 2011 | No Comments

I decided to go into this year without a plan—goals yes, plan no. We’re a few months in, so it’s time to take a look at how this is working out.

There have been some major accomplishments including:

1. Completing the manuscript for my next book: The Secrets of Creative Leadership.

I’ve been working on this book for several years. I was frustrated because my understanding and thoughts kept evolving far faster than I could write and re-write. Finally, I had the break-through thought of shifting it from a focus on entrepreneurial business to a more inclusive approach to leadership (which is really what the book has been about the whole time). Then I took a day off during spring break and focused to get the whole manuscript ready to share.

I had not realized that some of my general frustration and discontent with something I couldn’t identify had to do with wanting to get that project finished to make room for the other things I wanted to do. I’m usually pretty good at finishing projects (even though I have a lot of projects going at once), so it shouldn’t have surprised me so much to be so relieved when I finished the manuscript. A project that stood in “open” mode for over 3 years is stressful. While it’s still not “finished” (which it will be when it’s published and on the shelves), we’re on the down-hill side of the project now.  I know it WILL be shared with the people who are interested, it’s not just sitting in my drawer waiting to be completed anymore.

That feels good.  It was a major goal, but I didn’t have a plan for when it would be finished this year. Each of the 3 years prior had me planning to finish the book, then failing to implement my own plans. This is one instance where it appears surrendering my plan actually helped accomplish my goal.

Let me know if you’re interested in reading the manuscript and perhaps providing a quote or publishing a full review.

2. Mediation Training

I’ve been wanting to move into mediation for a long time because I’m good at helping people reach agreements in order to avoid conflict in the first place, and to resolve conflict after it’s come up. I find myself coaching people in negotiation strategies almost daily. I also do a lot of multi-owner business start-ups where I find myself being “the lawyer for the deal” which is really a perfect example of using mediation techniques to minimize the potential for serious conflict before it has a chance to ignite.

I’m working right now to craft service offerings using these mediation skills in a few different categories:

  • Negotiation Skills Presentations
  • Negotiation Skills Training
  • Coaching (separate from representation) individuals/organizations in Conflict
  • Conflict Assessment: Analysis of Situations with Suggestions for Resolution Approach
  • Pre-Conflict Mediation: Facilitating Deal Negotiations at the Beginning of the Relationship with the Intent of Minimizing Potential Conflicts in the Future.
  • and, yes, actually Mediating Conflict.

I’ll be offering these services through The Space Between Center for Creative Spirit in Business rather than through my law firm, although the Coaching and Assessment services might sometimes fit into or require engagement through the law firm.

Of course I now have a list of blog posts about negotiation and mediation that I’ll be working through (probably over at

I’m also thinking of putting an unusual emphasis on the preparation and planning elements of conflict resolution and prevention, maybe going so far as to require everyone at the table to complete an enneagram personality assessment and share the results with me so that I can coach them more effectively relative to how they personally approach conflict, as well as how to use their strengths and weaknesses in the conflict at hand, and in future negotiations.

I like the idea of finding as many opportunities for growth in conflict as possible.  If you’re interest in this kind of approach to your next negotiation, please shoot me an email.

I did not have a plan for when this would happen either. In fact, I had hoped to take the certification course in January, but it was full.  So, my plan would have been ruined anyway – and if I would have had a full plan, I would have been attached to the outcome and gotten ticked off when the plan didn’t come together in exactly the way I wanted it to. So, in this case, not having a plan made my life easier because I didn’t get angry when I got the news the January workshop didn’t have a seat open for me.

3. New Space Between Center Program.

We’re looking at launching some new mastermind programs for entrepreneurs and lawyers starting in June and continuing through the end of 2011.  We’re still shaping the content, but of course it will include coaching on flat-fee/membership client engagement models for service businesses including law firms. I MIGHT come up with some programs specifically around interest-based negotiation approaches as a separate series of calls/webinars.

If you would like to be kept informed about what we’re doing at SBC, please visit the Center’s Website and join the mailing list.

So, in summary, the first few months of life after surrendering my former preoccupation with planning seem to have resulted in several major accomplishments that historically did not happen when I WAS planning. There may be a spiritual paradox unfolding around me—that planning might sometimes actually get in the way of accomplishing one’s goals.

Before you get all up in my face about about that last statement, know that I’m not saying one should never plan. I’m just saying that my experiment with focusing on the “what” instead of the “how” seems to be resulting in some nice progress. I still plan, but I’m trying to keep the plans flexible, and most importantly I try not to get attached to the outcome. That attachment to outcome seems (for me) to happen almost at the instant of planning. It may be different for you.

I’d love to have some more conversations about this in the comments section if you’re willing to share.

Thanks for reading this far.



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