During my morning workouts I’ve been binge-watching the hit AMC series, “Walking Dead”. I’m only up to Season 4 and I admit I love the show with it’s excellent story lines, well-written dialogue and outstanding acting. The characters are so smart and resourceful! However in the most recent episode I viewed, the evil Governor’s assault on the prison revealed a fatal flaw in Rick et. al.’s plans.
After the fall of the prison Rick’s gang was scattered. Some fled in a bus, some into the woods and Rick and Carl made their way to an abandoned southern home. As I watched them flee, my mind was screaming out, “What’s your contingency plan?!? Didn’t you guys talk about where you’d meet up if the prison was overrun?!” Well it seems they didn’t!
Rick and Herschel (oh, poor Herschel…) seemingly missed this simple yet crucial activity but you don’t have to. Contingency planning is a critical part of your strategic planning process that can and should be integrated into your plan. Follow these simple steps to avoid problems should your objectives not work out exactly the way you’d hoped.
- Have a Strategic Plan to Start. – Make sure your strategic plan is rock-solid and checked, reviewed and revised at least every 6 months. It used to be we had a 3-5 year strategic plan. In this day and age, that should be a 1-3 year plan. Rick’s gang might have had a plan to survive in the next 1 year and identify a new home for his posse within 2 years for example.
- Consider “What If” Scenarios. – Say your strategic plan includes a goal to double in size in the next 5 years through acquisition. You’ve had some great conversations with a perfect acquisition target and after 4 months of hard work the deal falls through. Part of your contingency plan would include “What If our top 2-3 targets fall through”? Rick and Herschel could have at least asked “What do we do if the prison get’s overrun?”
- Consider the Risks. – Once you have your “What If’s” nailed, perform a risk assessment to determine the impact and likelihood of the “What Ifs”. This will guide your contingency planning to the most critical actions. With all those zombies and the sinister Governor lurking they may have decided the likelihood was 75% and the impact would be devastating..say a 10 out of 10!
- Plan Actions for the Most Critical Risks. – Now plan your actions should a What If comes true. Rick and the counsel could have decided “We’ll meet in X town within 3 days, then find another town.”
Contingency planning is a critical add-on to your strategic plan. Use the steps above to get started and remember that neither contingency planning nor strategic planning is an event, but a critical ongoing part of a successful operation.