Remember the Proverb — and Be Ready

Your plan has a hole in it. It doesn’t matter what sort of plan it is. A launch plan. A marketing plan. A communications plan. Whatever it is, it has a vulnerability that you don’t know about yet. How can you be sure there’s a hole? Because there’s a plan.

You might know the old Yiddish proverb: Man plans, God laughs. Consider a flight we took not long ago from Pittsburgh to San Jose. It was thoroughly planned. We had made allowances for weather and getting through security and changing planes in Atlanta. What hadn’t we planned for? A white catering truck.

The truck with the in-flight meals drove too close to our plane. The pilots opened a cockpit window to yell down at the driver. He backed up and everything was fine. Until the pilots tried closing the window. Oops! It was a complicated window in a state-of-the-art aircraft, and it wouldn’t shut properly. Probably no one had opened it since the plane left the factory.

The airline hadn’t expected a wayward catering truck, or a window with a flawed mechanism. But it had expected something, at some time. Experienced professionals found a solution. Rather than waiting for mechanics to replace the window, or sending the passengers off to hotels overnight, they called for another plane … and had one available. They updated the passengers frequently, and provided free entertainment and refreshments on the replacement plane. So, although we reached San Jose hours late, we did get there. And the airline’s brand wasn’t badly tarnished.

Yes, your plan has a hole in it. If you’re lucky, you’ll never learn just what it is, because you won’t encounter the exact set of circumstances that will reveal it. But nobody is lucky all of the time. So expect to respond to the hole. Know the agency and the people you’ll call. Know the first logical steps you’ll take to deal with a problem. Have a work-around in mind, just in case.

Be ready.

ABOUT Jim Leeke

Widely experienced in journalism, marketing communications and advertising, Jim has worked with top creative agencies to deliver print, Internet and interactive projects to Fortune 500 companies. His expertise ranges from technology and healthcare/pharmaceuticals to defense and veterans issues. Jim is also the author/editor of six books, writing extensively on the Civil War and baseball. In addition to his Wordsmithie role, Jim is Co-founder and Creative Director of Taillight Communications.