A humorous series of statements I once heard goes something like this: Plan A is the main plan. Plan B is the backup plan. Plan C is the just in case plan. Plan D is the when everything goes wrong plan. Plan E is the escape plan. While I don’t envision a situation in your personal or professional life where you will need to have well-defined Plans A to E, many people underestimate the value of a good backup plan (Plan B).
Murphy’s law states that “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” At some point, even the most fool proof of processes will fail. It is at those points that having a backup plan can save your time (and your job). A friend recently shared an experience where they needed 500 copies of a document for a lecture and opted to delay making photocopies until the morning they were needed. On that day, the office photocopier malfunctioned. The presentation would have faced an avoidable delay if not for the fact that the Office Manager having foreseen a situation where either a printer or photocopier would be unavailable at a crucial time had an arrangement with a business centre just around the corner from the office. The arrangement was that should he ever need to quickly print or photocopy documents, they will treat his request as urgent and important. That morning, the business centre dropped all other tasks and photocopied the document in enough time for
The example above illustrates just how useful having a backup plan can be. Yet many people forge ahead without any alternative plans for that single day when an unexpected occurrence throws all your careful planning out the window. Many would rather bank on hope and continued good luck. Some don’t bother to think about a Plan B because frankly speaking, they never made a Plan A in the first place. They were just hoping to wing it. Others are so far behind in their Plan A that they never took the time to consider what to do if it fails. At that point, they are doing their best just to catch up.
Regardless the nature of the work you do or the urgency of your next project, spending some time to think about what to do in the event something does not go according to plan is good practice. Look at it this way, when you get into your car, you put on the seatbelt not because you believe you will get into a crash but because in the unlikely (hopefully never experienced) occasion that it does happen, the seatbelt can be the one thing that saves your life.