"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II" (written by Steve Kloves, based on a novel by J.K. Rowling's):
We have to go there, now.
What? We can't do that! We've got to plan! We've got to figure out --
Hermione! When have any of our plans ever worked? We plan, we get there, all hell breaks loose!
And that, my dear readers, in a nutshell, is the principal difference between the two action-plan extremists.
In the red corner, equipped by multipage projections with color graphs and tables, are those who believe that strategic planning is the only way of life and one must ponder and weigh every situational possibility before taking any step forward (or backward). In the blue corner, wearing their firefighting suits with confidence and valor, are those who are convinced that when the shit hits the fan they will be able to immediately assess the entire spectrum of life-threatening circumstances and successfully handle the crisis.
Any kind of extremism is bad, kids, m'kay? In religion, politics, personal views, and business management. Different situations require different approaches. Only a balanced combination of executive instruments, including long- and short-term plans as well as emergency-response methodology, can guarantee an enterprise's ability to efficiently evolve and weather any dangers that constantly arise in the volatile commercial environment.
In my book, "CFO Techniques", I have devoted an entire section (Part VIII) to strategies and planning as crucial components of CFOs' and controllers' functionality - the important responsibilities that change financial managers from bean-counters to CEOs' executive partners. Participating in analysis of opportunities and construction of well-devised action scenarios offers us a possibility to affect companies in the most significant way. Remember, that those executives who let companies run their course without looking into the future and carefully plotting their steps for further development, leave the businesses vulnerable in the face of the fast-advancing competition.
On the other hand, crisis management efforts applied in situations that present themselves without any warning are of extreme importance as well, particularly in small and midsize businesses, which are highly susceptible to the slightest deviations in market, financial, economic, and political environment. Moreover, these companies frequently have less than sufficient reserves to tide them over tough times. Implementation of a disaster-rescue mission requires high level of composure and rationalization. Those who've read my "About" note know that I consider my "fire-fighting" skills to be the most valuable to my employers and clients.
It is a mistake to think, though, that even a very experienced CFO can wing it without contemplating some sort of advance "what-if" scenarios. In fact, a crisis management policy is just another form of a strategic plan. On top of that, proper preparation for emergencies requires broader expertise and deeper knowledge of various commercial, marketing, technological, financial, legal, and organizational matters.
The truth is that a successful executive must be capable of devising a carefully-weighed and calculated strategic development plan with all visual bells and whistles her digital arsenal can afford, but in her special folder she always keeps a set of comprehensive tactical procedures for effective extinguishment of fires and post-disaster survival.