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Getting It Wrong

A couple of weeks ago a bank run almost killed Silicon Valley Bank – a sign that inflation-led interest rate rises might finally be taking their toll. The regional-bank crisis had economists predicting a roughly 38% chance that the US Federal Reserve would cut interest rates in September.

This week, those same economists reduced predictions of a September rate cut to just 10%. You see, Saudi Arabia surprised everyone by announcing that they would cut oil production by more than a million barrels per day (putting yet further upward pressure on the price of goods and services). The takeaway of this flip-flop in sentiment for one particular journalist was that ‘the world’s most powerful central bank is always at the mercy of the unforeseen.’

A seemingly pithy remark… at least until you think about it. Because frankly, we’re all at the mercy of the unforeseen. How many times have you developed a beautifully logical plan forward – only for it to be utterly wrong just 3 weeks into delivery due to an unforeseen change in context?

Maybe it’s a new upline report who wants to pause everything while they get comfortable in the seat.

Maybe it’s that cyber-security review you’ve been waiting on for 6 months, that finally turns up and identifies significant flaws in your planned infrastructure.

Maybe it’s a large transformation announcement in another part of the business that pulls away 50% of your project teams for the next 6 months.

With stats like ‘90% of projects finish late’ floating around the web – this is the key reason why:

When we plan, we assume we’re going to be correct. But, it’s impossible to be!

The worst example of ignoring this fact that I’ve ever seen out in the wild was a program manager on a multi-million dollar software implementation. He asked each of his project teams to plan out their work across a 2yr horizon to no larger than half day blocks… Yes, you read that right. They had to plan 2 full years ahead with no tasks assigned anything longer then 4 hrs.

Which is insane…

If you guessed that the project plan was out of date within the first 4 hrs of its creation – then you’d be right.

So here’s a question for you to ponder:

What would planning and execution look like if you assumed you were going to be wrong? What pivot-points and sanity-checks would you build in?

And A Quick Tale On: Predictable Success

Anyone who’s ever tried to trade the stock market knows that there’s three potential outcomes.
  • The stock goes up,
  • The stock goes down,
  • Or it stays roughly the same price.

You have no control over which it does. In fact, there’s an old trader’s tale of a young analyst who discovers what seems to be a great way to make money. Running to his manager’s office, he eagerly reports “see, whenever we hit this price level the stock rebounds.” “Hmm… interesting” says the manager, who then makes a quick call to his broker. “Sell the lot” he says… The analyst is stunned, first that the manager did something directly contrary to his advice, and then a second time as he watches the stock price continue to fall past his ‘rebound’ price level. “Hmm.. doesn’t seem to working this time” the manager says while smirking…

Life is unpredictable. Getting a big bet right is great, and can be career defining. However,

Consistent success is more about anticipating each of the possible outcomes and having a path to success for each.

(Noting, that these two are not mutually exclusive – accelerated success is often found while doing both.)

Food for Thought

The Fallibility Paradox:

You decrease your fallibility by considering your fallibility.

Brendon Baker

Brendon is a leading expert in strategic framing and inside-out change. He has led and guided over $11 Billion in transformative projects and programs, from transformations to teddy bears. He is the author of the best-seller Valuable Change, and niche top seller Creating High Value PMOs. Brendon now spends his time helping leaders cut through the noise to focus on what matters; working with them to create new realities.

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