Bullet Proofing your Plans

More than any other situation Change is about cooperation and collaboration. No matter if your company is in serious trouble or just wants to find a new way to line itself up – it always needs people to initiate, moderate, steer, coordinate and live that Change.

So what? The problem is that often people simply don´t know how to cooperate. Of course people cooperate on a daily base, but this is mostly routine, it´s like a form of vegetative state. Change causes different needs and different needs urges people to modify their behavior.

Over years I have collected several “Creativity Techniques” to support Cooperation between people – not only in times of Change. It is always better to be prepared than surprised…

What are Creativity Techniques?
Creativity techniques are heuristic methods to facilitate creativity in a person or a group of people. They are most often used in creative problem solving.

Generally, most creativity techniques use associations between the goal (or the problem), the current state (which may be an imperfect solution to the problem), and some stimulus (possibly selected randomly). There is an analogy between many creativity techniques and methods of evolutionary computation.

In problem-solving contexts, the random word creativity technique is perhaps the simplest such method. A person confronted with a problem is presented with a randomly generated word, in the hopes of a solution arising from any associations between the word and the problem. A random image, sound, or article can be used instead of a random word as a kind of creativity goad or provocation.

The bullet proofing technique aims to identify the areas in which your plan might be especially vulnerable:

  • What may possibly go wrong?
  • What are some of the difficulties that could occur?
  • What’s the worst imaginable thing that could occur?

There are some similarities with Potential Problem Analysis (PPA)(Kepner and Tregoe), Negative Brainstorming (Isaksen and Treffinger, 1985) who suggest that ‘What might happen if…?’ is a useful question to use for looking at potential challenges.

  • Brainstorm around enquiries such as: ‘What might happen if…?’ to identify the areas in your plan of action that could potentially cause problems and which have not yet been identified.
  • All the areas identified should be placed on a table such as the one below, showing how likely the event is to occur and if it did occur, how serious it would be for your plan.
  • Major problems that are very likely to happen. If there are significant numbers, you may first need to priorities them so that you can focus your effort on the most important.
  • Use any suitable problem-solving method to work out ways to dealing with them.

Although this type of exercise is necessary, it can have the effect of lower your spirits, looking on the ‘black side’. Should this be the case and you feel in the need for some cheering up try using the same technique in reverse:

  • What could go well?
  • What pleasant surprises might it deliver?
  • What is the best thing that could happen?

Obviously these uplifting enquiries should be reasonably plausible – a collection of good things that really might happen!

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