I am not sure if I’m the only one to hear this term Plan B more often these days. My guess is I’m not.
As per Wikipedia, Plan B is a popular term used to mean a reserved, secondary plan, in case a first plan (a hypothetical ‘Plan A’) fails. The idea of having another plan came up from contingency planning I would reckon. I.e. to have a second plan just in case the 1st plan faces hiccups or fails completely. In that sense Plan B is nothing but a “back up” plan. The underlying assumption is that the Plan A indeed has a large probability of success and Plan B has to be activated “just in case”. Or is it?
That we all live in a challenging environment today with variables a plenty would be an understatement. The variables range from man-made economic types to Natural ones where we have limited control. So it is enough to say that uncertainties along the way is the only certainty. In a globalised connected world as the one we exist today, if one region sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold. So natural disasters of the kind like Tsunami in Japan or Bird flu in China or the Floods in Thailand and man-made variety like the Lehman Shock in the US, Currency crisis in the Eurozone or Upheavals and Uprising in the Middle East leave aftershocks in other parts of the world. Depending upon the magnitude, the tremors can measure differently in the local ‘Richter’ scales. But the fact is that these shocks leave an impact and upset one’s plans. As I mentioned, the impact these leave on the Plan can vary case by case but impact it surely leaves. So invariably we are left with no option but to crank up our Plan Bs! So, don’t you think in the past few years we have been resorting to that Plan B more often?
In general, Plan A is likely to be made out of a liberal dose of optimism with a general “as and where is “assumption of the markets, the environment,.. and Plan B is more likely to be the more realistic type which assumes that what is likely to fail will fail and accordingly a plan of action to mitigate those failures. So in line with that it also assumes a more realistic investment and spending plan. That brings to my argument of this blog which is – Do we really need the very exuberant Plan A which we know we will have to junk down the line and resort to the more realistic Plan B? Why not just make the Plan B the original Plan A which targets a realistic goal, takes into account the associated risks, which plans a more measured investment and spending in the 1st place?
Most of the terms we use in business and everyday life take its origin to military whether it is the most used or rather abused phrase in business namely “Strategy” or this Plan B. In military it is very common to have a Plan B or even Plan C or Plan D and that is because one cannot get into the minds of the enemy and there is uncertainties galore. While in that military context it may still make sense to have those backup plans, I would imagine that in business or day today life it is time to call the plan coin right! Do write in with your own views and experiences on Plan A Vs Plan B.
Tail piece: While researching for this piece, I stumbled upon a drug called “Plan B” which is apparently a “Morning after pill”! This is again an example of resorting to Plan B knowing very well that this is basically the Plan A!!!
And actually my Plan A for this post was to lament on the usual Indian politics and Plan B was to write on well – “Plan B” and here again Plan B conquered the day!