Henry Singleton on Strategic Planning — Stay Flexible

Henry Singleton

Henry Singleton has the best operating and capital deployment record in American business . .  . if one took the 100 top business school graduates and made a composite of their triumphs, their record would not be as good as Singleton’s. —Warren Buffett, 1980

Henry Singleton eschewed detailed strategic plans, preferring to remain flexible.

“I know a lot of people have very strong and definite plans that they’ve worked out on all kinds of things, but we’re subject to a tremendous number of outside influences and the vast majority of them cannot be predicted. So my idea is to stay flexible.”

In a rare interview with a BusinessWeek reporter, he explained himself more simply:

My only plan is to keep coming to work. … I like to steer the boat each day rather than plan ahead way into the future.

Henry Singleton as quoted in The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success

Still curious? If you want to learn more about Singleton read the excellent Distant Force: A Memoir of the Teledyne Corporation and the Man Who Created It. You can learn more about strategy here.

Feed your mind by subscribing to my Sunday newsletter. People say it's "the best newsletter on the internet." See for yourself: Sign up.


Print Friendly and PDF