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Leadership Thought #416 – Have a Plan B


I had a mentor who once wisely advised me to never walk into a negotiation or make a decision without considering all possible outcomes.  This knowledge has served me well on countless occasions.  I tend to be an optimist who gets caught up in the upside of any given situation.  I see positive outcome potential just about every where I look.  I need to remind myself that not everyone is interested in a win-win outcome or sees things as clearly as I think I do.  More often than not, people want to protect what they have or defend the status quo rather than embrace something new or different.

It is rare that things work out exactly as planned.  We often attempt something with the best of intentions and then run smack into a reality not as accommodating as we’d like it to be.  In all decision making or negotiation situations it’s advisable to have a plan B that allows you to adjust for shifting circumstances or differing points of view.  We often don’t get everything we want, but to paraphrase the Rolling Stones if we are smart about it, “we just might find we get what we need.”  It’s very important to be able to prioritize your objectives and know where you have some room for movement.  In fact, it’s critical to build flexibility into your response strategy.

Most professional interactions are of a transactional nature.   There is an exchange of value between two or more parties which under ideal circumstances benefits all concerned proportionate to their initial investment and business expectations.  However, we don’t live or work in and “ideal” environment.  There are usually variables beyond or capacity to control.  We can predict what may or may not happen, but predictions by their very nature are rife some uncertainty.  Surprises and disappointments are a fact of life.

I am a big believer in “If, then…” scenario thinking.  The basic premise being that you look at a situation from multiple angles and determine all possible outcomes/results of a triggering event/decision.  Once you’ve exhausted your grasp of what could potentially happen, you map out how you would respond to each eventuality.  If you do your homework and plan properly, you have a high probability of successfully negotiating whatever may happen. 

In your life and work, always have a Plan B.  Never put all your eggs in one basket.

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2 Responses

  1. and also contingency plan C.

  2. I often find that an old fashioned decision tree helps to define the alternatives and concentrate the mind on the desired outcomes. Your post reminds me of the maxim “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy”

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