Planning for the Unknown
To follow the lead of a previous post regarding the unknown being an 800 lb gorilla, several people have asked me about “how do you deal with the unknown?” So, today is a how to of dealing with the unknown or uncertainty.
We need to become comfortable with the concept of contingency planning. This is a form of creativity being applied to the planning process or the classic “what if …” application of dealing with possibilities. Think of it as simply looking at alternative courses of action.
Being prepared by thinking about possible scenarios of events is the mark of true winners and the best leaders. Why? Because they prepare in advance for the possible changes in the current environment. This allows for individuals and leaders to remain calm in the face of chaos in the eyes of others. Calmness in the face of adversity is a characteristic of great leaders.
Napoleon Bonaparte was a great strategist who was prepared for multiple contingencies as a General of the French army. He thought about every possibility that could occur during a battle and developed a plan to deal with it if it happened. Thus, he has very successful for an extended period of time – when longevity was not a given.
Contingency Planning has been around for a long time, yet, few people engage the process for their advantage in the marketplace or life issues. It is the mark of the winner. Great coaches have shown an ability to plan out contingencies and have their teams prepared for several different strategies from their opponents.
The process is simple. First, think about what your outcome should be. Then think about the key variables involved in each milestone of the project or strategy. Brain storm potential critical issues to the success of the project or strategy. Make a list of the ideas generated and prioritize the list. Then discuss with others about how to deal with each contingency starting with the top issue. Develop a possible plan of action for each of the key elements contained on the list of contingencies using the input from others in your solution.
The last point, remember to believe no problem or issue is too big an obstacle to overcome. Challenges are the idea catalyst for many leaders. They understand the principle of Great Things will be Challenged by Others. Adversity gives us the opportunity to separate ourselves from the “thundering herds” of people and organizations who need excuses or something to blame for their own incompetency. Declare your own independence day and move to the head of the class.
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