Plan tight, process loose

On Wednesday evening, Paul asked me what we are doing this weekend. Like many couples there is a planner and a spontaneous one, and you can guess who is who in our dynamic. I replied that I was planning to be sick this weekend. What???? I was getting the COVID booster Friday afternoon, so, yes, I was planning to be sick.

I thought I had escaped a reaction Saturday morning so we went to Costco and other errands. But, I got hit with the full range of symptoms on Saturday afternoon and went to bed. I am fine today (as planned). It made me think of the wise counsel from Dan Wertenberg, a mentor to many new Vistage Chairs when I started in 2000. In preparation for peer board meetings, he suggested that we plan tight and process loose.

What does that mean? The way Dan described it, have a carefully planned agenda. Be ready with possible group exercises to do if the speaker didn’t show up. Bring extras: copies of every handout, batteries, blank name tents, etc. Then, if someone walked in with an emergency issue, be ready to change in the moment. If the speaker was a dud, stop him and do something else. Be focused on what would bring the most value, not checking off the activities on your agenda. Trust your instincts and take action.

When I think of it now, it was great preparation for these COVID times. There must be at least 3 ways to get to any destination. Making a plan to take the fastest route is clearly the most efficient time-wise, but running up against the LA Marathon or some other roadblock can change the appropriateness of that plan in a nanosecond. Don’t waste energy being upset about it. Change your route and continue moving towards the goal.

This week, create balance between planning and flexibility. Notice switching costs. See if you can reduce the friction when you have to change.