Do You Have a Plan B?

Originally published February, 2020

If I suggested to you that your current plan was going to fail somewhere down the road, would you be ready?

The optimist would say ‘I don’t need a Plan B because this IS going to work’. The realist would say ‘absolutely’.  Which side do you fall on?

Whether you are planning for your organization, your career, or your life, you should have a Plan B. We all know that life doesn’t always work out the way we hope. And when it doesn’t, we are so often caught off-guard and ill prepared. A great strategic thinker should be ready for the bad news and have an alternate plan.

We often hear this when we are dealing with lawyers. They are trained to walk us through the worst-case scenario. I can remember myself across from my lawyer awhile back thinking ‘that will never happen’. And, of course, it did.

Our plans always seem easy and, for the most part, risk free. Organizationally: an acquisition, a new product line, expansion or even contraction. Professionally: a new job or a new career or maybe a new business and a new partnership. Personally: a move to a new city, a new relationship or a new direction.

All of these plans require sound strategic thinking, planning and execution. But they also require a realistic plan B.  What happens if it doesn’t work out?

So, as you think about your future in any part of your life, ask yourself “what happens when it does not work out – what then?”.  Go through the natural phases of the bad news and play it all out.

  • Dealing with the pain or sorrow, or frustration or disappointment
  • Running through the immediate term action plan:
    • Do you have enough resources to be safe and secure?
    • Do you need to hire outside help?
    • Are others around you going to be alright?
  • Start implementing a plan to abandon Plan A
  • Analyze your ‘current state’
  • Review the options available to you?
  • Prioritize your options and select one or two that might work for you
  • Record the steps it will take to make Plan B happen

And then file it.

Knowing that you have thought through a sound analysis of a Plan B will help if the day comes and things start to go south.

This is good, sound strategic thinking.

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