Contingency planning isn’t natural

There are very few scenarios growing up where I got to witness contingency planning in action.

Think about your own life. When you or your family planned a vacation, did you ever hear someone plan an alternative in case you couldn’t make it? Or couldn’t afford it?

When your parents scheduled time to meet with family friends, did they ever suggest a restaurant but also make reservations at a second location?

What about when you arranged to pick up a friend at the airport? Did you hear them also ask someone else, and plan it, just in case?

As I watch men and women at work struggle to create contingency plans, I always have to remind myself that contingency planning isn’t natural.

Most of the folks I know who are good at it had to learn the hard way.

I once spent months recruiting a candidate that was a perfect fit for the job. She was amazing. But I also had to recruit, with the same vigor, several other candidates for that director role, just in case. Thankfully she accepted the job.

In my own heart, with all my emotions, I just wanted to wish that the best case would become the reality. Hope was my strategy when I was growing up.

It’s only the realities of life that shape you and teach you, out of necessity, that hope won’t get you over the finish line. And that’s when you need a good plan B, C, and D.

  • It is more work.
  • It is hard to get excited for the alternatives.
  • It is time consuming.
  • It can be complex.

But it is good. And useful. And helpful.

So while you know I’m likely to ask you what you’re doing to develop contingency plans for all the work you’re doing, I’m going to ask you something even more practical.

Since contingency planning isn’t natural, what are you doing to train your team to get better at it?