Leadership Thought #416 – Have a Plan B

December 12, 2012

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Always 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 everywhere I look.  I need to remind myself that not everyone is interested in a win-win outcome or sees things the way I do.  More often than not, people want to protect what they have or defend the status quo rather than embracing 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 less accommodating reality.  In decision making and negotiation situations it is advisable to have a plan B that will allow you to adjust for shifting circumstances or differing points of view.  You need to be able to prioritize your objectives and know where you have some room for movement.  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.  However, we don’t live or work in an “ideal” environment.  There are usually variables beyond our capacity to control.  We can predict what may or may not happen and surprises and disappointments are a fact of life.

I am a big believer in “If, then…” scenario thinking.  Doing this allows you to look at every situation from multiple angles, to determine all possible outcomes, and to estimate the potential results of triggering specific events or decisions.  Once you’ve exhausted the possible scenarios, map out how you would respond to each eventuality.  If you do your homework and plan properly, you increase the probability of successfully negotiating whatever happens.

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