The Plan of the Few vs. the Plans of the Many

Some people mistake the absence of a visible, centralized plan as an absence of a plan.  Their mistake is in failing to account for the plans of individuals, or the plans of the many.

I know I lifted this from an economist, but I’m not sure which one.  Perhaps it was many.  I think it was Thomas Sowell, maybe Hayek, Friedman, Roberts or Landsburg.  If I figure it out, I’ll properly credit it.

Credit they deserve.  It comes to mind often.

This mistake is made often for economies, governments and companies.

I’ve witnessed and abetted numerous management teams go through top-down centralized planning where the output of the hard labor of many individuals was primarily a prop to create the illusion to Boards of Directors that productive work had been accomplished.

Sometimes, and unfortunately for the owners of those firms, management attempted to execute against those centralized plansThey mistook that as their job. They didn’t keep their job much longer.  But, they get other jobs and they do the same thing over again with the same results.

Their job is not to execute a centralized plan.

What is their job?

Their job is to encourage the individuals in the firm to align their individual plans in ways that results in the success of the firm and the successes of individuals.  (They’re also charged with finding those individuals).

Update: Aaron McKenzie commented to inform me that Hayek deserves the credit based on a quote from his book The Use of Knowledge in Society.  Thanks Aaron.

2 thoughts on “The Plan of the Few vs. the Plans of the Many

  1. Always enjoy your posts.

    Your reference to planning, I believe, comes from Hayek’s “The Use of Knowledge in Society:”

    “This is not a dispute about whether planning is to be done or not. It is a dispute as to whether planning is to be done centrally, by one authority for the whole economic system, or is to be divided among many individuals.”

    Keep up the great blogging.

    • Thanks for the comment and pointer Aaron. I know I have read that passage, but I haven’t read “The Use of Knowledge in Society” yet, so I must have seen that quoted somewhere..

      Looks like you have a great blog too. I’m going to have to catch up on it.

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