“The most successful people are those who are good at plan B.” – James Yorke, mathematician

Great quote don’t you think?

When I read this I was immediately transported to the concept of the The Balanced Scorecard.

Or, if you’re a small business owner like me, a single A4 page with my nine key predictive indicators for my business.

I call this my Business One Page Planner which gets reviewed every month so that we can check on our performance then agree and take any necessary action.

Why is this relevant to a plan B?

Because it provides the best tool for generating and managing plan B – assuming you have a healthy blend of leading indicators built into it.

What I mean is – you must not fall into the trap of only capturing, measuring and managing lagging indicators.

When I present the Business One Page Planner I use an ancient picture of a miner wearing breathing apparatus and carrying a cage the size of a PG Tips tea box (80 bags!).

In the cage there’s a merry little yellow bird.

The miner’s best friend.

Plan A is to dig for coal. Plan B is to don the breathing apparatus and then leg it out the mine – ASAP – if and when the canary falls over.

The miner’s leading indicator is the canary. What’s yours?

If you aren’t sure what plan B is then make sure you’re close to the leading indicators for your business and that you use them to drive action.

For example:

When Gordon Bethune took over at Continental Airlines in 1994 the performance across three leading indicators proved they were worst (by a long way!).

The three measures were: 

  1. on time arrivals
  2. lost luggage
  3. customer complaints

He used these 3 leading indicators to rally his dysfunctional workforce into right action and eventually became the best performer in the industry.

Oh… and took the business from close to bankruptcy to healthy profitability and cash flow.

Gordon clearly describes his plight and his recovery in a great read called ‘From Worst To First’.

Work out your canaries and watch them closely!

Or, like James Yorke suggests, have a very clearly worked out plan B before you get down the mine!!!

Paul Shrimpling signature





PS: The success of a one page planner is the monthly discipline of collecting the results, reviewing the results and taking action based on these results. I help a number of accountancy firms do this for their firm. And I would recommend you have someone support you do the same.

Go to the Living Proof page from the Navigation Bar above, and you’ll read how Andrew at Mayes Business Partnership describes how they use tools from AVN – a national association of accountants – to help many businesses make this one page planner approach (via an event) work for their clients and the value of doing so.