This Would Never Happen to a Boy Scout: How Most Failure is the Result of Poor Planning
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Ask my husband or daughter. I take this mantra very seriously. On ski trips, we pack water, snacks, hand warmers and an emergency blanket. On trips to the park, it’s sunscreen, hand wipes, windbreakers and of course, water and snacks. On family holidays, it’s games, puzzles and as always, snacks.
Take any of the disastrous results in your recent past – the live workshop with no attendees, the product launch with zero sales or even the trip to the park that got rained out. Chances are you can trace their origins back to a single problem: poor planning.
Yes, you can blame circumstance, yes, you can blame others who contributed to the mess, and yes, you can even blame chance, but when it comes right down to it, if you think about it, you could have done something to avoid it (or at least, lessen the impact).
Now poor planning takes many forms – sometimes its false assumptions, others insufficient effort – but it all comes down to the same thing: the importance of slowing down, thinking through the entire process from start to finish, and challenging your ideas and assumptions beforehand.
How to Avoid the Poor Planning Trap (aka How to Be Like a Boy Scout)
Avoid Wishful Thinking – If everything goes perfectly and the stars magically align, you will be successful. WRONG! Don’t count on everything going according to plan because it never does and if this happens to be the one case where it does, yay for you! But if it doesn’t, don’t get caught unprepared!
Challenge False Assumptions – Are you absolutely, positively sure that your success plan has no false assumptions? The best way to check your assumptions is to run it by an unbiased outsider who will give you to straight goods on your bad idea. Many a failure has started with one important detail being totally false.
Allocate Sufficient Effort – Don’t look back on your project with regret, knowing you skimped on the effort. Do everything you can (and then some) to make it a success. This rule also applies to how you allocate resources to your project – better err on the side of too many than not enough.
Always Have A Backup Plan – What happens if this disaster scenario comes true? What then? You’d better know the answer because the worst time to figure out a plan B is when you are right in the middle of a crisis.
Meet Milestones with Gusto – The best way to avoid failure is to give yourself milestones and plan on meeting them with gusto. By that, I mean not cutting yourself slack and thinking that you can make it up when you fall behind. Better to pick up the pace early than try to play catch-up when it’s too late.
Care (or dare) to share any of your disaster stories? Give us the scoop in the comments below! I’ll post mine to get the ball rolling!