6 Secrets: When Plans Meet Reality
Most of us will agree with Robert Burns who famously wrote, "The best laid plans o' mice and men gang aft agley." I'm not great with Scottish, but like Bobby Burns I've seen plans go awry.
If you've never witnessed people (or mice) scurrying to figure out how to get their plans back on track after they have run off the rails, then you have lived a sheltered life - or aren't paying attention.
Be Ready for Holes in the Road
Even the greatest action plans seldom go exactly as you intended. In order to be truly great, your plan should be ready for obstacles and snafus.
Consider these 6 secrets:
- Anticipate - anticipate - anticipate. To expect that things will go like clockwork places way too much trust in the elements of pretty much everything we try to accomplish. A little thought and preparation up front can help you respond to problems that rear their ugly heads. They are still problems but you will have removed the element of surprise.
- Remember Murphy's Law. Murphy's Law says that anything that can go wrong will do just that. Some people claim that Murphy was an optimist, so it is a good rule to keep in mind.
- Plan for specific contingencies. If you can envision problems and obstacles, a good next step is to develop a plan to deal with them, e.g. what if it rains for your outdoor event, what if your sales prospect objects to your price, what if a key employee is sick at the absolute worst time, etc. The problem may not arise, but you will be ready.
- Remember the people component. A smart planner will always count on people to do things for their own reasons, not ours. You might hope that you have employees, vendors and even customers who will do more than you want, sooner than it is needed and without being asked. A good plan will anticipate that it will be less than we want, not on time and will require constant reminders. Build it into your expectations.
- Add time to the timeline. If the work plan (without any hiccups) calls for a certain completion schedule, the wise planner will add a cushion, knowing that one or more elements will take longer, not work as anticipated or a valued participant might completely drop the ball. Extra time will provide breathing room to regroup and recover.
- Welcome problems. In the final analysis, you should welcome the problems that come up. Often, they help you identify flaws in your initial plan, highlight inconsistencies in your approach or lead you to a better alternative.
Planning to Build KASH At the end of the day (metaphorically or in reality), when you build a plan that anticipates the elements that will go wrong, you are usually much more successful. In addition, your KASH (knowledge, attitude, skills and habits) is that much stronger for the next time.