Do you come up with a plan B only when plan A has collapsed?
When things start to go pear-shaped do you start making decisions in a blind panic just to get out of the current mess?
That’s not a path to ongoing success… but this is a great way to relieve the stress of running a business, because if you keep doing this, fairly soon you won’t have a business left to worry about!
Just as important as using your strategic plan to guide your decisions and growth is having a plan B for everything you do. We all know that despite best efforts and careful planning things still go wrong from time to time.
All businesses hit speed bumps. It’s inevitable. So, whenever you make an important decision in your business, make sure you have a backup plan as well.
If you’re planning a new advertising campaign and expect to attract 2,000 new customers, what happens if you only get 200?
What happens if your new product gets overtaken by the competition 16 minutes after it comes out? What will you do if one of your suppliers goes bust the day before you’re expecting a major delivery? Remember, well thought out means well executed.
You need to have contingencies planned for things that could conceivably go wrong in your business, so that problems don’t interfere with your productivity. These plans need to be viable as well.
Don’t dismiss your contingency plans because you think they are unlikely to be needed. Most of the time they won’t be needed, but from time to time they will, and you have to stay on track even when you revert to plan B. If you can’t come up with a viable plan B that fits with your strategic plan, the solution is simple: you can’t do plan A.
If you can’t come up with a viable plan B that fits with your strategic plan, the solution is simple: you can’t do plan A
It’s crucial for you to think about what unexpected events could come along to disrupt your productivity. For each strategic decision you make, you must work out:
- What you are going to do?
- What you are expecting to happen as a result?
- What it is that you don’t know about this decision that could blindside you?
Too many business leaders only consider the first two of these and not the third. They don’t think about the worst-case scenario.
You must be comfortable not only with the worst-case scenario of plan A but the worst-case scenario of plan B. If you know the worst-case scenario for plan B and your business will be okay if this happens, think about how much confidence you will have pursuing plan A!
We all know that the vast majority of the time the worst-case scenario for plan B doesn’t happen, but we also know that sometimes it does, so you need to know what it is and be ready for it.
Have a look at the crucial systems in your business and the major decisions you make. Do you have backup plans in place for these?
What is the worst-case scenario for this plan B? What would happen if this were to occur? Does this make you think twice about what you are doing?
Ultimately, if you are okay with the worst-case scenario for plan B, then plan A is ready to go.
To help you maintain productivity, make this your favourite question: ‘What if…’ Challenge your own decisions mercilessly.
Do they fit your plan? Do they REALLY fit your plan? Really?
Or are you just doing something for the sake of it and you haven’t really thought it through? Non-strategic thinking leads to knee-jerk reactions and bad decisions.
Have a look at the next major decision you are going to make today and ask ‘what if?’ List at least three things that could go wrong with this decision. What is your plan B if this occurs?
Power to you!
Senior Strategist - Business Benchmark Group
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Stefan Kazakis on 5 May 2018
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