Having a game plan – and a Plan B

Preparing for competition, in football terms an important game or in business terms facing the directors for a critical meeting in the boardroom, requires carefully preparing for the future.

Having a ‘Plan B’ or a contingency plan when having to deal with ‘foul weather’ as Peter Drucker termed it, when all did not go as planned, is very much the role of a well-prepared leader. Bill Walsh (ex Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers) implied that the leader who’s prepared his final script for future work could only do so when they had considered, in detail, as many unforeseeable factors in order for them to become foreseeable. Only then could the script be written.

In preparing for the Youth Cup Final of 2008, a most prestigious competition in professional football, I witnessed just this. A leader and his team preparing a group of players and staff for the most important games of their tenure. Equally a club playing their part to ensure that a script was created to support preparation for the game. No stone was left unturned and nobody ‘flew by the seat of their pants’. This planning included contingencies such as the following:

  1. Preparation factors – considering all the necessary factors, such as setting the tone for pre-competition work, the venue, playing surfaces and other factors.
  2. Building the team, staff and players around the vision, creating the environment, gathering information and amongst others ‘bigging up players’.
  3. The Game Plan and a ‘Plan B’.
  4. Preparing to execute the Game Plan – the match strategy.
  5. Tactical factors and a ‘Plan B’.

Here are five simple considerations for an organisation to think about in preparation for a specific deal:

  1. Remove the potential to crash and burn by considering all the unforeseeable eventualities and prepare for all potential happenings.
  2. Ensure strong and caring leadership and that all self-interests are put aside – if a successful outcome is achieved all will benefit.
  3. Pre-game planning does not always go to plan. Staff should be a part of creating an environment that is both flexible and adaptive. Be prepared to change course if necessary and have a ‘Plan B’.
  4. Pressure is very much a part of striving for big goals. Caring leadership ensures that it understands the pressure their team will face and encourages them to stand up to it.
  5. Absolutely prepare to win

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