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When Things Don’t Go to Plan

by fatweb

Martz Witty

Head of the Martz Group.

So you’re in business and something isn’t quite going to plan, or has happened that you hadn’t budgeted for, or has struck from left field and caught you unaware. These all happen. But how are you dealing with them?
The first typical reaction is knee jerk and panic, but this is seldom the correct course of action.
Instead I suggest grabbing a pen and paper and answering these questions that I learned years ago at a Dale Carnegie Course. It changed my life forever and is cited in Dale’s book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”.
Of course, as with anything, the theory is one thing – you need to apply it:

  1. What’s the problem? Try to itemise in measurable terms what is wrong, what’s happened, what is about to happen. At a fundamental level, anything we can measure, we can manage.
  2. What’s the cause(s) of the problem? What has happened that led to this arising: is it a system fault or a human fault, who is that person, what is the system, when and how did it happen, when did it come to your attention?
  3. What are the possible solutions? Okay now let your worry get out of the way here. No answer or possible solution is a crazy one, from the sublime to the ridiculous. List them, don’t stop at one or two – go for gold. I remember years ago I had a staff member who did this exercise about a failing computer system the company had at the time. One of his possible solutions was to go to the roof of our building in Durham Street and throw the computers off. Yes it was a bit crazy, but the fundamental truth was that the entire system needed to go.
  4. What is the best possible solution? Pick and choose; with a vast array of options from the three listed above, what can you glean, merge, pick and choose that will fix the problem?
  5. Do it. Just do it. Now.

It sounds so simple (and it is), but the challenge in business when facing a crisis or problem is we fail to stop and think, contemplate and act.
Perhaps you are too close to the action? Then find a friend, an advisor or a colleague and work through this together. A fresh set of eyes will see things differently (perhaps less emotionally) than you do.
We often get called to undertake this exercise and the true power of the process is in the implementation.

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