Sometimes you need…well…a good Plan Z in your back pocket.
That’s the plan you think you’ll never need, for the circumstance you’ll never see.
…there you are, in the midst of conditions you never dreamt could converge, all at the same time, in the same place, in quite this “perfect storm” way.
And you find yourself trying to glue together solutions you know you have to try, even as you fear they may not work.
And in the background, you’re thinking:
1. It would be so much better if you could have foreseen this…
2. …and then prevented it…
3. …and if not, if you had planned what you’d do if this type of circumstance did occur (and therefore, had that great Plan Z in your back pocket).
And so, you’re doing your absolute best to stop the problem and stem the damage.
An “opportunity” to experience “I Need a Good Plan Z” occurred for me recently, thanks to a computer that decided to go on strike quite suddenly, and a backup system that was not quite as tight as I thought it would be in tight turn circumstances.
Learn from my painful experience to prevent your own.
Let me just provide a bit of context:
My family and I had to take a sudden trip back to the Midwest for a family emergency. There was no time for delay.
In the rush to get on the first “red eye” flight, I reworked schedules, packed bags, deposited pets at kennels, advised neighbors of our plans…and got the computer ready to go.
Everything fell into place.
The computer was unnervingly slow, and the backup system threw out a warning that I’d better back IT up or face serious data loss.
Troubling as it was, I had no choice but to set the problem aside because we had to get on our way to our nighttime flight. I’d just have to pick it up when we got back home.
When we returned after the intense, unplanned but necessary whirlwind trip, I knew I needed to trouble-shoot the backup system, but had immediate deadlines to finish meeting first.
I hoped to pick up without missing a beat, right where I’d left off.
And the plan worked, for a day.
The computer ground to a halt.
No screen. No familiar sound of the machine springing to action.
Just a barely audible hum, letting me know there was still a minor sign of life under the proverbial hood.
It was soon apparent the computer had a stay – and perhaps a long one – for repairs at some cost in time, money, and data lost.
It turned out to be more than a week without my computer, hoping for the best when it returned.
Here are a few of the lessons I learned as I tried to make the best of a bad and unexpected situation:
1. First, don’t panic.
Consider if there really IS a problem, or if, instead, someone or something just needs a little time off to rest, recharge, recuperate.
2. What’s the worst that can happen? Be ready for that.
Figure out how you’ll handle the worst circumstance that, on first pass, you think could happen.
3. Now consider what could happen that’s even worse, and figure out how you’d handle that.
Don’t stay in that planning process for long (you may scare yourself if you do).
Spend just enough time that you know how you would respond, if it did.
4. Now, consider what your ideal solution is in the circumstances you anticipate, more than what you fear.
In my situation, I had irreplaceable family photos I’d downloaded to my computer and erased from my camera, but hadn’t had time to back up before the computer crashed.
My ideal solution, in that circumstance, was different from what it would have been if I’d just had a few draft emails I could have let go if all computer contents were lost.
5. Find out how bad the situation really is.
Get the facts.
Until then, you just don’t know what you’re dealing with. The circumstance may be better, or it may be worse than you expect.
6. Find out what your alternatives really are.
Choose the solution that most closely matches your priorities and “ideal” solution for the difficult circumstances you’re in, whatever they are.
7. Get moving and get a solution in place.
Delays, avoidance and head-in-the-sand moves won’t save the day – or your data, or whatever else it is that you’re trying to retrieve, retain or improve.
8. Expectations of a good outcome probably have to change.
An “okay” solution before this happened may look like a GREAT solution now, once your alternatives are reduced, along with the resources that are already reduced by having to fix something you had no idea was broken, at all.
9. In the process of working out a workaround, you may find that some changes or innovations you had to make, in the moment, are solutions you want to keep far beyond this experience.
You never know.
A great invention, innovation, or process improvement could arise because of the difficulty this perfect storm has brought.
Get through this experience as well as you can.
Then take a look at the good things this experience has wrought, if there are some. You’ll find, ultimately, that there surely are, and perhaps more than you thought.
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