Before jumping to the three horizons framework, we have to understand that all enterprises, both large and small, engage in strategic planning. The daily activities of a management team revolve around analyzing the internal and external situations, formulating strategies which will be turned into operational plans, and then acting on these plans, with evaluations and adjustments being made along the way.
Think of it like competitive sailing. The racing course provides a clear sense of direction, and yet there is no predefined track because any seemingly perfect trajectory depends on many uncertainties: the winds can change, or the course tactics of your competitors might even take the wind away from your sails. Sailors constantly decide how to adjust their sails and yield to the advantages of sudden opportunities. The challenge lies in withstanding the force of the winds with the water, coupled with the guiding overall direction to complete the racing course in the shortest possible time. It is exciting, heart-thumping, neck-breaking sport. How is it possible, then, that these activities at work become so tedious to many entrepreneurs?
What happens is that these activities typically focus on medium-term cycles of quarterly- and yearly-planning and budgets. Developing an innovative business within rapidly changing markets makes it impossible to predict the events and results of the coming year. The annual budgets are out-of-date the moment they leave the printer. Strategic planning does not reflect the essence of entrepreneurship, i.e., the agility to capture unexpected opportunities as these emerge. It never anticipates what actually ended up happening.