Munger on PlanMaestro
Charlie does not believe in master plans! I should not think that everything is about me (how I hate that song) but it is funny and insightful
And there has never been a master plan. Anyone who wanted to do it, we fired because it takes on a life of its own and doesn’t cover new reality. We want people taking into account new information.
It wasn’t just Berkshire Hathaway that had this attitude about master plans. The modern Johns Hopkins [hospital and medical school] was created by Sir William Osler. He built it following what Carlyle said: “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly in the distance but to do what lies clearly at hand.”
Look at the guy who took over the company that became IBM. At the time, it had three equal sized business: [a division that made] scales, like those a butcher uses; one that made time clocks (they bought this for a block of shares, making an obscure family very rich); and the Hollerith Machine Company, which became IBM. He didn’t know this would be the winner, but when it took off, he had the good sense to focus on it. It was enlightened opportunism, not some master plan.
I happen to think great cities develop the way IBM or Berkshire did. I think master plans do more harm than good. Anyway, we don’t allow them at Berkshire, so you don’t have to worry about them.