There is a slip of paper taped to the mixing board at NPR’s Fresh Air. It reads, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” This sentence, first uttered by Louis Pasteur, might as well be taped to the inside of my skull.

In the world of content strategy and execution, which is best: careful planning or quick reaction to the zeitgeist? Turns out, the best content strategy incorporates both.

It’s a bit like agile management, an iterative systems process based on the idea that both planning and responsiveness to change must be built into any undertaking.

By iterative, I mean a process that occurs over and over again. That’s pretty much how you describe the basis for a good content strategy, or as we like to say, lather, rinse and repeat.

While agile workflow is mostly known among software developers and engineers, its principles can be easily applied to other kinds of businesses. Indeed, the Lean Startup model takes its cues from agile management. Let’s look at how agile process works, and consider the Agile Manifesto, a website created by developers and engineers in 2001, and led to the creation of The Agile Leadership Network.

Agile projects are divided into two week sprints. Each task on the to do list is prioritized. There are the tasks that must be completed in the next two weeks, and tasks that are placed into the backlog. Say you decide that twenty tasks can be completed in the next two week sprint. You get to the end of the 14 day period and find only 17 are finished.

Do you curse yourself? No, you adapt and schedule just 17 tasks for the next week. On the flip side, if you get halfway through the week and have completed all 20 tasks, you reach into the backlog and pull out tasks to complete. The following week you set a higher task goal for you or your team.

Agile management is great for taking into account inevitable spur of the moment changes. If you have to stop what you are doing to react to an unforeseen event, those tasks yet to be completed move to the backlog.

The Agile Manifesto places priority on people over processes and tools, product over documentation, collaboration over negotiation, and response to change over following a rigid plan.

Here’s how to view content strategy through an agile lens. First, an editorial calendar is a great framework, and yet, it must be considered a working document, not set in stone. Excellent content is also driven by the pulse of the company, shifts in the industry, reaction to news items, and that X factor also known as visionary thinking.

Some of the best ideas happen on the fly, but in order to achieve a state where creativity flows, an ideal content creator does her research. Armed with knowledge obtained from many perspectives, it’s possible to put two seemingly disparate ideas together to create a much larger whole that forwards the conversation and in itself becomes compelling, shareable content with a universal appeal.

If you are determined to write the same content, adhering to the script week after week without regard to the whispers and shouts of the larger world in which the narrative takes place, you will find failure.

In the world of content, planning and preparation are essential, but agility and responsiveness in an environment filled with chance events are the keys to long term relevance.