We like to think that as organizations we can execute on our primary plan (Plan A) and strategies and get the results we’re looking for. Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way.
Then we turn to Plan B and in my experience, that's OK and sometimes even better. Having a Plan B allows us to be more confident knowing we have a backup. Plans can fail. It’s how we handle the alternative that determines our success.
Here’s a look at a few of my Plan B experiences and what I’ve learned:
- Gaining new owners.
When pursuing the sale of our company, we expected to sell to a manufacturer in our industry. We positioned our company accordingly and even visited potential buyers. Instead, we sold to a private equity firm. It was a better fit. We could still retain our culture, keep our headquarters in St. Cloud, provide more opportunities for our employees and continue our growth strategy. We didn’t cling to Plan A. We remained open to other opportunities and are seeing the benefits.
- Selling everything everywhere.
We once thought that selling all of our products in every market we serve made the most sense and even had plans to do it. But it proved far more challenging than we expected. We couldn’t hire, train and market fast enough to get the results we wanted. Instead, we opted to narrow our focus on three key regions and several of our core services. This has allowed us to develop a model that we can take to other markets. We’ve found that we can’t do it all – at least not at once.
- Refining our IT strategy.
We have spent the past two years working to refine our IT strategy. We created a team, held regular meetings and identified areas of opportunity. But we didn’t get the results we wanted. So, we stepped back and asked a consultant to step in. In a short time, we started seeing results. The consultant more clearly outlined our target client profile, identified ways to increase our profit margin that we initially didn’t see and, most importantly, held us accountable to make changes we once struggled to make. Sometimes we can’t do it ourselves. Plan B provides opportunities to engage others with a fresh and even more insightful approach.
These experiences – and others – have taught me how important it is to have an alternative plan. Just because Plan A didn’t work, doesn’t mean you failed. It could have been wrong from the start. Shifting to Plan B can become a good move and is something that should be considered with every strategic plan.