Is a Contingency Plan a Strategic Planning Tool?

Topics: Strategy

A wise person once said: “Nothing is constant except for change; it is the only constant we can count on.” If the statement is so true and accepted as such, why is change so difficult to deal with, anticipate, and plan for? If it’s such a certainty, then why does it always catch us off guard and upset or ruin our plans?

Recently, while on vacation (yes, a beautiful beach), one of my projects experienced a big change of plans (yes, while I was on the beach). This involved an event with a large number of clients in Canada. Fortunately, I work with a wonderful team of individuals who stepped up to the plate and made the necessary modifications to allow for a successful event, regardless of all the last minute changes.

Now that I can pause to reflect and evaluate what occurred, I wonder if there was anything I could have done to anticipate this scenario and the amount of team involvement that would be required to handle the change. I should have known something would change, right? It’s constant; the only constant we can count on.

As I look more closely about what happened, I can see that strategic planning was not used appropriately. The visible signs prior to my vacation would have called for a contingency plan. Yet, I didn’t take note. A different more strategic approach would have indicated that a contingency plan was needed and would have caused fewer headaches.

Contingency plans are good and necessary in many things we do, but I think that the most important lesson to be learned is that you must to flexible. Anticipating what change(s) will occur is one thing, but you also need to use strategic planning for the changes. We obviously don’t always know what changes are coming so we need to be able to step back, review the situation, and alter our strategy. If we are too rigid in our thinking and planning, we will fail to seize those unforeseen opportunities that change can bring.

In my opinion, developing clear contingency plans that anticipate change is a central part of strategy and the strategic planning tools that can be used.

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