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He who hesitates

It always surprises me the number of people who sit down in a nice safe environment to work out a plan of action that covers all eventualities. A plan carefully thought out and considered to meet their every need. They consulted experts and listened to people with experience and then, later on, when the trigger point is activated they then, on the spot, make a decision to ignore their plans and do something else. Most of the time we are lucky and it works out but when it doesn’t it causes big issues.

Follow the plans
The plans are there for a reason. They cover more than a knee jerk reaction as they have been carefully considered. In addition plans chain together to make a larger programme and breaking links in that chain causes the whole programme to collapse. In our situation this can lead to issues further down the line for a larger group of people.

Failure to follow plans have repercussions
Your plan could have you leaving your RV at 0830. On the day at 0830 you find a few people not there and others do not want to leave them behind. So a snap decision is made, you stay an extra half hour to wait for those that did not treat the time seriously. That extra half hour was your contingency travel time to get to a second RV where you were to meet up with the rest of the group to move on to a boat to take you across to an island retreat. You hit a delay and with the contingency already gone you arrive late to find the ship has sailed. Your entire group is now stuck and have to find your own way across. Even worse your group had responsibility to deliver the only doctor on your team and his medical books.

Good plans always have a certain amount of flexibility to cater for issues but cascade failures cause them to go wrong. In this instant the first failure was waiting for the late comers, the second was that a delay occurred on the journey. Either one of them was able to be handled. Both were not. Most serious issues are cascade failures. Don’t let one of them be a decision by you.

Identify risk areas
When making plans where that sort of issue may happen there are two areas you need to consider;

  • Missing people
  • Group dynamics

The first is obvious. You turn up and everyone is ready to go but a member of your party is missing. It is obvious that you want to wait and, after all, that is what the contingency is for. The second is that is the person missing is an ex politician or traffic warden then nobody wants to take the risk and wait for them but when the missing person is popular or young then the group may make a democratic decision to wait.

It isn’t a democracy any longer, if it every really was. The leader with responsibility for the plan has to make a reasoned decision. It could be, wait 5 minutes, 10 minutes or go now and the group needs to go. The leader knowing his role in the entire plan cannot risk the doctor. The missing people know the fallback plan and know the fallback is to head to RV2. Perhaps they knew they were not going to make it and knowing this made plans to go directly there. Maybe they are never coming for some reason. Logic dictates we should follow the plan but humans are not logical creatures and grasp at straws.

Conclusion
How many times have you watched someone stick to a strategy that clearly is not working when they planned to only do it for a defined period? Just one more go. It must work soon. Then the decision is made for them and usually at less favourable terms. Isn’t it better to bite the bullet and amputate the finger rather than being forced to lose the arm or your life?

Set your trigger points and when they are activated do the deed. After all they were thought out in much easier circumstances for a reason. Don’t let a last minute unthought out change derail your plans.

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