How to Know Your Plan Sucks

While working for a horrible division of a successful company, I attended a mandatory training session in something akin to TQM.  The most useful technique I learned for the planning of successful outcomes was to come up with the worst possible plan, then invert it.  This was eye-opening, and it allows people who tend to focus on worst-case scenarios to shine.  (Fans of Seinfeld may remember that George applied this technique in a more rudimentary form.)

You can also use this technique to assess whether or not a given plan closely resembles the worst possible plan, as a way of determining how doomed it is.  Come up with a plan for your company to fall into ruin, for example, and see if there’s any overlap with how you currently do business.  Come up with a plan to lose at a strategy game, and see if any of the tactics involved are ones you currently employ.

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