Home > The Monday Musings Column > I love it when a plan comes together

I love it when a plan comes together

“I love it when a plan comes together” Col Smith used to say at the end of each A-Team episode, almost as though it was a rare event when, having expended thousands of rounds of ammunition and several tons of explosives of the climax (without killing anyone) they had again triumphed.

Planning is everything, but it doesn’t always work out, usually because there are variables that you can’t control. A leading military man once said that no strategy survives the first encounter with the enemy and whilst that is a generalism, it’s pretty true because in an adversarial plan you can’t be sure of your opponent’s reaction.

Negotiation strategies have this problem. You can think it through and plan as much as you like, but if the other party does something that you haven’t allowed for you’re on to plan B, C, D or whatever.

I once worked for a guy who was obsessed with this, but would only ever have the one plan. On one occasion three of us were to meet three others and my boss was determined that we should play our cards close to our chests and not reveal what our plan for a project was; we were to get the opposition to show us their hand first. He even decided where we would make them sit in the meeting room in order to, in his words, dominate them.

When we got to the meeting room they were already seated, but not where the plan required. Never mind, we made the introductions, and my boss opening with his prepared line, but his opposite number ducked this salvo and asked “What are you going to do?”. There was a moment’s silence and then my boss looked at me and said “Tell them John”: Collapse of plan.

You can’t plan for every possible variation because it would take so long that the early assumptions will be out of date before you are half way through, but you can use experience to prepare for the most likely pitfalls and have back up plans in place. This is how good crisis management plans work as you can train for certain eventualities and teams then know which drills to go to as they react to unfolding situations.

The reason for this topic appearing this week is just one of those situations. I have a plan for delivering my weekly Monday Musing and most weeks it follows one of two paths; either I write the column during the week when a topic inspires me or I write it late on Sunday evening and trust to my muse to see words appear on the screen.

In case my muse fails me I have two or three stories written that I can choose from and use as a failsafe and that plan has kept me going reliably for about four years now, but yesterday I was engrossed in something and forgot my Monday Musing entirely, only remembering it a few minutes ago when checking Twitter and not seeing the expected Tweet for my column. For the first time I have forgotten to post a blog, but salvation is at hand from the fall-back plan.

So he we are, a little over two hours later than usual, but the back-up plan has saved the day. Not perfect, but the objective has been achieved and I too love it when a plan comes together.

So how are your back-up plans? Would they work for you if you needed them? Maybe you should check and, if you don’t have a plan I hope that this will inspire you to make one.


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