My sister and I have a running joke. When one of us believes the other is doing something that is not wise we say, “Run screaming, waving your hands over your head like your hair is on fire”. Similarly, my brother has a habit of saying, “Panic!” when asked “What are we going to do now?!!?”
If you overlook the sarcastic humor that obviously runs in my family the point is clear. The idea of engaging in hysteria because something isn’t working is funny. Unfortunately, too many people don’t create a workable plan B to deal with mistakes or unforeseen problems causing a plan to go off track. The result is often a team running in circles and getting nowhere. It has often been said, “not planning is planning to fail”. I would add that not having a plan for when the plan fails means panic is your plan (say that three times fast).
Here are a few things that hold true no matter how big or small the snag in your plan is:
- Accept that mistakes and challenges happen. The more effectively they can be addressed the faster you will be back on track.
- Make sure the person who is responsible for making decisions has the power to be decisive.
- Have a specific goal. When you know exactly what you are trying to accomplish, it is easier to eliminate things that don’t need to be done right away.
- When problem solving, don’t worry about how you got to where you are. Determine where things stand, where you need to go and how to get there. Save the “what happened?” for later.
- Be as knowledgeable as you can so when something does go wrong you have the information you need to address it.
- Keep a level head.
After a ‘crisis’ has been averted or addressed there are a few follow-up things to do:
- Thank everyone for their efforts
- Check for pieces of the original plan that may have fallen by the wayside during the focused problem solving. Add them into the new plan as appropriate.
- Look at what caused the problem in the first place and learn from it.
- Evaluate your response to the problem. What worked, what didn’t what could be done better next time.
- Pat yourself on the back for coming through a tough spot and getting things back on track.
Mistakes, problems and even emergencies happen. Accepting them, preparing yourself with knowledge and then giving yourself permission to “figure it out” will go a long way toward a positive outcome. Panic will only make things worse.
A quick shout-out to say congratulations to everyone on the east coast (including me) who made it through and is cleaning up from Irene.
How do you plan for when Plan A runs into trouble? Let us know in the comments.
Next week – Accomplish more by taking a break
If you missed last week, be brave to be successful, you can read it here.