Rational, Emotive, Cognitive & Behavioural (RECB) Business (and Life?) Planning

method1As a Business Consultant and advisor I often found myself caught between the different entrepreneurial stances to planning. Some entrepreneurs like the idea of a detailed, full and complete planning others, seemingly ‘fly from the seat of their pants’ casting off the constraints and effort involved as ‘too time consuming and restrictive’.

The great strategic management guru, Mintzberg, termed the first approach ‘Rational Planning’ – ‘Set your mission, identify your critical success factors (and measures), analyse your environment (SWOT), choose your best approach (strategy) implement it (take action) and feedback on progress (control)’ he lectured. It makes good, logical sense.

I call the latter one ‘Reactive’, not unlike the ‘Behavioural Response’ the psychologists Skinner (stimulus leads to response) and Pavlov (the bell driven salivating dog) describe to us. It goes like this – something happens in the business (‘ding’) and the entrepreneur responds (‘dong’).  I guess they are not really planning just reacting!

My experience has taught me that two further planning positions or entrepreneurial types exist between these extremes:

  1. Those who concentrate or focus on just on a few ‘Critical Drivers’ when planning their business. I term this ‘Cognitive Planners’. This saves time, but benefits from a degree of rational evaluation of what is important to the business (I mean, of course the egotistical entrepreneur!)
  2. That ego is not necessary a bad thing; it has often been honed through experience and instinct that means the ‘opportunist’ is not lucky, but simply confident in responding to their ‘Gut Instinct’ – I term these ‘Emotional Planners’.

This worked for me because as an executive coach, business psychologist and consultant, I was able to link my own  psychological research and RECB (Rational Emotive Cognitive Behavioural) and approach directly into tailoring the business planning intervention that best works for my client. Neither of the four approaches is any better than they other. The efficacy depends on context and the risk profile and ways of the entrepreneur.

It has worked for them and my suspicion (and further research focus) is how such an approach can support us all in understanding how we approach risks in and planning of our lives.



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