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Even the greatest planners are surprised by novel situations. In some ways, the very act of preparing for the possibility of being surprised mitigates the actual surprise when it comes. This allows a team to be in a better position to think on their feet and make sound adjustments without a panic. Overconfidence leads to an inflexible mind that is too surprised that they’re surprised to react appropriately in the critical moments. Knowing that you don’t know what you don’t know is a crucial part of planning and implementation.
Thinking through how the team will respond to various possible scenarios allows a team to better prepare for unknowns and situations that are outside the team’s control. There is a nuanced difference between winging it and responding based on the imagination of the planners. A robust imagination can help game-plans better prepare for the unknown.
The best gameplans are not scripts. They may include a portion of a script that is designed to direct action and experimentation in order to gather information. That information is then planned to inform adjustments that are anticipated from the beginning of the team’s planning. Planning to adjust based on data that is later gathered allows teams to be flexible while sticking to the plan.