Thursday, December 4, 2014

Prepare for Opportunities and Contingencies

In a previous post I pointed out the five things that the successful do differently:

  1. They engage in the planning process.
    Five Things
  2. They set goals and objectives.
  3. They develop plans for achieving those goals.
  4. They prepare for opportunities and contingencies.
  5. They measure progress and hold people accountable.

The fourth item on the list is of particular interest to me.  In a way, it explains that the planning process is more important that the plan itself!

Planning is an ongoing process.  It is a way of thinking and communicating—where the team is nimble and quick on its feet, constantly adjusting and refining the plan due to changing conditions and expectations.  Goals and objectives are merely temporary targets. As time advances on the future, assumptions become more accurate.  Decisions and actions made on the front line close in on a target that moves from a cone of uncertainty to a clearer target. Unexpected events create opportunities and contingencies that call for changes in directions.

Unexpected,yes, but not unprepared for.  A few years ago, I suggested that an organization’s management team meet monthly just to think about things that could happen. Their mission was to identify strategies that would allow them to benefit rather than suffer from those events. Over time it was surprising how often their imagined events closely mirrored reality, but more importantly, the team developed a way of thinking that enabled them to respond to new opportunities and deal with contingencies quickly.

Practice prepares individuals and teams to take advantage of events that are likely to surprise others. As Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.”

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