Ways to distinguish yourself #125: Periodically re-visit your Plan B

The credit for this post should go to Bill Wiles. Thanks Bill.

Bill recollected his days at SGI where he used to head International Business Development. One of the requirements for his direct reports was that twice a year, they had to come back to Bill with a “Plan B” – what would they do if their job disappeared tomorrow. While his direct reports were not warming up to the idea initially all of them enthusiastically participated in the program. Over the years, almost everyone appreciated the value of having a “Plan B.” Bill mentioned to me that many of them (who are in leadership positions) practice this in their own firms.

Before I make my point, let me share another concept. My friend Naveen Lakkur says that there are two kinds of unknowns:

a. Known Unknown – You know what “kind” of unknowns they are and with some right configuration of help you can sort of deal with them. For a business person, an example of an “known unknown” will be new deals this quarter.

b. Unknown unknown – You don’t know what they are. One example is what happened to Naveen when he almost lost his eyesight for a few months. It’s hard to deal with them.

Now, making my point:

Having a Plan B and re-visiting it periodically will be your partial defense against “Unknown unknown.” You can never have full defense against an unknown unknown. However, something is better than nothing.

Having a plan and being ready for it is not the same as executing on it. Just thinking through options and planning will help you in times of (negative) surprises