I love to plan.
I love to take an idea and live with it, think about it, develop it and finally present it. I love the planning that is involved, the details, the thought process.
But, I have discovered a very important part of planning, one many people miss. If you don’t have a plan “B”, you don’t have a plan.
It is all about being prepared for the unexpected. How many special events have been spoiled by unexpected problems, and, because people didn’t have a backup plan, the event was a disaster. I have been in weddings, meetings, conferences, even sermons where a great idea flopped because of an unforeseen situation. Power outages, a spill on a dress or shirt, a special guest having a flat tire, bad weather, microphone failure, lights not working, even projectors not having the right connectors. When you stop and think about it there are so many things that can go wrong, so many things that are outside our control.
But, planning is within our control.
So, how do I develop a plan ‘B’? It’s simple, you ask and discuss two questions all through the planning time.
1. ‘What could possibility go wrong?’
Walk back through each part of the event and think about things failing. Most of the time we are thinking about how great it is going to be. Now, think about what could happen that would keep it from being as great as we imagine. If it is an outside event, what happens if it rains? If it is an event that requires power, what do you do if there is a power outage? If it requires an outside guest, how do you make sure they are there in time? Be careful not to say, ‘That could never happen’, because it can.
My son got married in the middle of August in Southern California. August is the hottest time of year in that part of the world. It is beach weather every day. Gina wanted to have the reception outside on the mall at the college they had attended. We spent the day decorating the mall with twinkling lights. It was beautiful.
The wedding started in a local church and then the rain came. Everything went well because Gina had a backup plan. She had reserved a nearby building on campus ‘just in case’. The guests never knew what they missed. They were having too much fun.
2. ‘What do we do if any of those things happen’.
As you discuss the different solutions to the different negative possibilities, you may end up with several backup plans. Often, you can put plan ‘B’ on hold without a lot of cost, like reserving a backup room for an outside reception. Maybe you need to have two people prepared to transport the special guest, or an extra shirt hanging somewhere just in case.
I speak at a lot of churches who have volunteers manning the P.A. and video units. Sometimes the volunteers arrive only to find the settings have been changed or the equipment won’t work. Often they have to call someone for help. Sometimes that person doesn’t arrive in time to be of help to me as I deliver the message.
As I plan my message, I always have to plan for whatever may happen. I cannot be dependent on anything, even a microphone, to feel success. I have to be ready for anything and to do that, I have to think of all that could happen and how I will respond. I love seeing the relief on that volunteers face when I tell them “It’s OK…we can do it another way”! I can only do that because I planned for it to happen.
Planning! Can’t live without it! Just plan for anything!