Think of the tallest building you know of. Pretty impressive isn’t it? From the ground these buildings tower over us, a testament to human creativity, industry, and the conquest of gravity. Humanity has overcome the forces of nature.
In order for those buildings to be safe, they actually sway in the wind. Some just inches, others as much as a foot plus, but all of the world’s tallest buildings are built to sway. They have to, a rigid structure would break and fall.
Our plans are very similar. We can pore over them, refine and adjust them, and ensure they are absolutely efficient. But unless there is some flexibility built in, they will break, fall apart, and collapse. There are just too many variables in life that can push even the most solid plan in one direction or another. The only way for a plan to survive is to adapt, to change, to sway.
Here are a few tips to help you “windproof” your plan
- Know where you can be flexible. Is your time frame flexible? Work force? Materials? Budget? Each of these should have targets, but as you put your plan together you need to identify where your flexibility will come from, and where there is no room for negotiation.
- Make sure that others understand the flexibility of the plan. If you don’t communicate where the plan can flex, the team (or the boss!) may panic and lose focus if changes need to be made. This can be a great distraction and lead to more issues.
- Keep focused on the result. Your plan may be a work of art, but don’t lose sight of the goal. You may have to abandon or change a plan that you personally invested a lot in. That can be hard, but if you keep the goal in front of you, you will be much more ready and able to act and adjust as needed. Delay can be costly.