What Could Go Wrong?

February 14

Mike Tyson says, everybody has a plan till they get punched in the face. And, you know, a lot of entrepreneurs are afraid to really talk about all the things that could go wrong for fear of being too negative and resist others talking about the things that might go wrong for casting a buzz or a bad hex or something on their plans. The thing is, we really want to consider this. Think about the Apollo 13 mission. Two days into the mission, 207,000 miles away from Earth, a large bang is heard, and they start having fluctuations with their electrical power and attitude control thrusters. 

And one of the astronauts. Jim Swaggert radios NASA. Okay, Houston, we have had a problem here. A small electrical short and oxygen tank had blown the thing impacting and blowing out oxygen tanks and fuel cells. So they now had an issue with oxygen and power. They had a real problem in their hands, and immediately they needed to reconsider. The whole mission was off at this point. It was just really about getting home alive. 

But fortunately, among many things. But in an earlier training mission, they had encountered a situation where they needed to use their lunar module as a lifeboat. And in doing that scenario, the mission failed because they couldn’t power that thing up and get into it in time. Thanks to that earlier probing and looking for possible points of failure, they had created a whole checklist and procedure for powering up the lunar module in the lifeboat and using it as a lifeboat. 

Thank God they’d done that, because if they hadn’t, apollo 13 wouldn’t be the extraordinary rescue success story that it was. So thanks to that, they were able to power up the lunar module. They use that as their lifeboat. There were a whole lot of other things. Watch the movie, read the book if you want to know more about the whole thing. But this idea, I think, is really an important thing for all of us as business leaders, and that is to probe deeply about the things that are most likely to go wrong and to deal with that, create contingency plans around those. 

Don’t avoid that. And if you have people on your team who are always seem a bit negative and questioning what could go wrong, you should thank those people and empower those people. That’s not the only perspective, but it’s really important because things will go wrong, like all kinds of things. Not necessarily the things you thought about, but having done a big broad reach of the things that are most likely to go wrong, you’ll have a few contingencies to deal with as your project, as your mission unfolds. 

I hope that’s helpful for you and gives you something to think about as you work on planning and ensuring the success of your plans. One of the critical things as you grow and accomplish things that you’ve never done before. 

My name is Bill Gallagher, scaling coach and host of this Scaling Up business podcast. We bring our show to you every week, so if you dug it like it, subscribe to it, give a review on it, get notification, share it with somebody else, all of that stuff is good for you and us, but come back and check out the next ones. 

We’ve got a whole series of these right now running on topics related to leadership that scales, so hope that’s helpful. We’ll talk to you again next time. Keep scaling up. Until then. Bye. 


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