My Uncle Al used to say, “You need a plan for a plan for a plan”. I don’t know exactly where that phrase came from but he flew for a living (first in the military and later commercially) and I suppose in the air is not a place where you want something to go wrong without having a plan to fix it.
Business and life in general is a series of things not going according to plan. Success isn’t about coming up with a perfect plan and executing it as it was envisitioned. Success is coming up with a plan and finding a path through as things go wrong and in some cases seeking out a new end state.
As I started write this, we’re preparing to leave for a Spring Break ski trip. It was booked months ago and we were supposed to leave first thing Sunday morning. I’m writing this on Sunday evening. Winter Storm Xylia intervened and some 2,000 flights were canceled. Fortunately, I was alerted to our cancellation Friday just after noon which gave me enough time to come up with Plan B (delaying 24 hours and ditching the basic SUV rental in exchange for something more up to the task). That didn’t’ work out either. I’ll spare you the details but by the time we were finally successful we were somewhere in the middle of the alphabet and a typical 8 hour trip turned into 26 hours. We made our dogsledding reservations (which could not be rescheduled) right on time. It was a good lesson in perseverance for my son.
A client and I are working on a succession plan and just as we took our first steps we realized that it wasn’t going to go as smoothly as we had hoped. One of the succession team resigned! Fortunately, it’s early in the process. It can be good to fail early. It leaves plenty of time to regroup. I had a similar experience with a succession plan last year. In that case, I had drafted something that I literally called “Plan B” and we ended up taking that route (albeit with some adjustments).
Even driving down the road is an example of needing to have contingency plans. I’ve been to the BMW Car Control School twice and part of the lesson is about understanding the traffic around you and your options when something unforeseen happens. More than once this has been a life saver (perhaps literally) in heavy traffic.
Think about how often things don’t go as planned. There are times when we all instinctively adjust. There are others when we let the negative effects dominate.
It’s important to think about “what if” something doesn’t go as planned. What is the next best alternative? How smoothly can we transition from one approach to another? What is the cost if something goes wrong? How much would we spend to fix a particular problem? Are the consequences short or long term? What is the impact of a delay and how can you overcome it?
I hope you have a plan. But, as Uncle Al used to say. “You need a plan for a plan for a plan.”
If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to [email protected]
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