You Need a Plan B for the Big Stuff!

By Patrick Thean

dateWed, May 14, 2014 @ 03:30 PM

We are almost done with the first half of the quarter. You have a 13-Week Race. How are you doing? Do you have big projects that are critical to get done? Are they getting done? Do you feel confident that they will be done well at the end of the quarter? 


Here are some reasons why projects fail:

  • We did not have a clear vision of how to achieve our goal. So it was not that we did not know what needed to get done. Rather, we did not know HOW to get it done. Not only do we need clarity on what the goal is, but we also need clarity on how we are going to get it done.
  • We did not identify critical path milestones. All projects have a critical path. But not all project leaders take theStone_Path time to think through the execution plan, and understand what the critical path is. The critical path consists of the key things that have to be done in order for other tasks and items to get done. Not knowing the critical path milestones before a project begins often causes delay or wait time, as other items get done only to end up waiting on a critical path task to be accomplished before they can move forward with other tasks and items for this project.
  • We did not realize that resources we were depending on would get deployed elsewhere. Lack of communication often causes us to wait for shared resources that are busy working on something else. The good news is that they are busy and productive. The bad news is that they are not working on your project!

Consider the following Rhythm to help you achieve your projects:


  • Spend time planning your execution. How are you going to get your project done? After figuring out what to do, linger a little longer to figure out how to get it done. Write down your execution plan. Write down 3 to 5 key milestones that need to be done and when they need to be done in time for your project to get completed successfully.
  • Think through your critical path. Think about how your project affects other people’s work. Who else do you need to help you succeed that might not be in your department? Let them know immediately that you need their help and schedule in their commitment to help you. Letting them know you need them is not good enough. You need to get commitments to when they are going to work on your project. Then you need to hold them accountable to getting those items done on the timeline or schedule that they committed to.
  • You need a “Plan B” for the big stuff. Projects that are immensely important to your company, that cannot afford to fail or be late might have critical path items that are dependent on an outside partner or resource that you have no control over. You need a “Plan B” for these critical path items. What will you do if these items look like they are not going to get done? Unless you are willing to embrace failure and wait, you need to think about having alternatives that will allow you to still achieve your project.


Read how AvidXchange used “Plan B” to complete their AvidPay project on time and successfully in Chapter 11 of my new book Rhythm - How to Achieve Breakthrough Execution and Accelerate Growth. Critical priorities with critical deadlines require a Plan B.  AvidXchange’s Plan B helped them achieve $5MM in sales for 2013, and much more for 2014. What’s it costing you to neglect having a Plan B for your big stuff?

If you would like to learn more about my book, please download the free introduction chapter “Breakthrough Execution."


Rhythm Systems Patrick Thean's Summary from his Rhythm book

Patrick Thean


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