Proverb – California

Saying– The 5 P’s:

“Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”

My mother, Jane Brayton, learned this saying in high school from a peer of hers in a student government meeting.  They were discussing an event that went poorly, and he walked in and posted a giant sign on the board with the saying on it.  It was communicated that he believed that the reason why the event went poorly was not because of the implementation, rather the lack of good planning. She had never heard the saying before this point, and assumed that the saying had been either coined or picked up by the guy she heard it from. She never asked him how he came up with it.  The high school that my mother attended was Seramonte, in Daly City, California .

Throughout my childhood, my mother used this saying often, whether I was complaining about bringing a jacket that I didn’t think I needed, or the girls in my Girl Scout troop complained about having to spend so much time planning a camping trip.  It was used so often that I often ignored its meaning, however on second glance, it is a good saying.  In a catchy alliteration that is simple, but also strongly conveys an important point.  It is not possible to have a successful event without proper planning, and if an event is properly planned there is less of a chance of something going wrong.

I always assumed that this was a silly saying that my mother had devised, however after doing some research, I discovered that the 5 P’s are commonly known, and that in fact the British Army uses the motto, however they have added two additional Ps so that it is a follows:

Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Another version of the 7 p’s is:

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

It is sometimes seen as the 6 Ps:

Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Or the version my mom knows, the 5 Ps:

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

In addition, there are many other versions, some used in the business world and others as casual words of advice, all of which contain similar words in a similar order, and convey the same basic meaning.

Based on this, I believe that it is likely that the boy who my mom learned this from learned it from his parents or relatives who had heard the saying used at some point in their professional lives.

Works Cited:

“6 Ps.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 10 Dec 2007. Accessed  9 Apr 2008. <>.