A Contingency Plan is not a Plan

by Jack Warren, host of the Top Coach podcast

Call it what you like, but a contingency plan is not a plan. Leaders in some organizations put planning last on their to-do list — that is, if they actually had a to-do list. Instead they fall back on old tropes about teamwork and how, “If you see something that needs to be done, then do it.” That, indeed, fits the broadest definition of contingency planning, but if that’s what you’re depending on to get things done, then your boat ain’t gonna stay afloat for long.

In order to grow your organization, you need to plan. It’s just that simple. You may have stumbled into early success, but in order to experience sustained success and growth, you’ll need to plan. Start with simple, recurring tasks. Make a daily to-do list. Check it each morning or, like Louisville’s Dan McDonnell, check it last thing at night in preparation for the next day. As an added motivator, make a paper list like Nebraska’s Rhonda Revell so that you get the added rush of physically marking through another “win”.

Then move onto weekly planning. Develop a list of tasks, separated into categories such as, “must do”, “should do”, and “would like to do” in order to prioritize your list. Check the list daily. Reprioritize. Celebrate your wins.

It starts to get a little harder after that. You must set aside time to work with your staff to plan monthly, quarterly, and annually. And like a good business does, you need to develop three and five year plans. That will help you steer your ship in the right direction.

Above all, don’t get caught in the trap of letting things just happen. You may have good people surrounding you who manage to order the uniforms at the last moment and remember to lock the clubhouse, but relying on contingency plans in the long run will lead to bad team morale and a discouraged staff.

Photo by Daniel Tausis on Unsplash

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