Contingency Plans for Positive Events

February 24, 2015

in Contingency Plan, Positive Events

Most contingency planning concentrates on preparing for and handling negative risk and negative events. Positive events also occur and there is also positive risk that we need to consider. Examples of positive risk:

  • A task or project is completed much faster or more efficiently than anticipated
  • A new resource becomes available that improves the situation
  • A negative trend reverses and becomes a positive trend
  • A positive trend accelerates
  • An obstacle to progress evaporates
  • A sudden windfall gain is realized

In understanding and preparing for positive risk and events, the first steps involve planning, knowledge management, and situation awareness.

Planning always begins with a characterization of the situation, functions and processes that are involved. There may or may not be an organization, a mission, various systems and different people. All of these things must be determined and some type of scope for them defined.

Knowledge management is a compliment to planning. It involves making an inventory of what you know and how you know it and how that knowledge can be used. If there are many people and systems involved, there may be many items and many sources to document. There are four quadrants to the chart of “Knowns and Unknowns” (see link below).

Situation awareness means knowing what is going on around you, specially the most important things that will create effects that must be dealt with. Situation awareness requires a definition of the mission and needs, a state of alertness, a focus on what is important and collection of those important things, and finally some form of integration of what is observed into other sets of knowledge so that it become useful.

Contingency plans for positive events might include topics such as:

  • Continuity of growth
  • Expansion
  • Surplus management
  • Knowledge management
  • Process improvement and self improvement
  • Optimizing “Flow” state
  • Seeking serendipity

Standard contingency planning for negative events involves the following steps:

  • Impact analysis
  • Making proactive adjustments or using controls to minimize damage
  • Reactive strategies to minimize damage and aid in recovery

A contingency plan oriented toward a positive event follows the same process but with some changes. The impact analysis seeks to find potential gains instead of losses. The controls seek to maximize gain instead of minimize damage. Reactive strategies also seek to maximize and solidify gain.

Controls for a negative scenario regarding power failure might involve using flashlights and batteries in place of normal lighting. Controls for a positive scenario regarding solar power becoming affordable might involve installing solar panels and switching all lights to LED bulbs to reduce demand. Implementing the solar panels and LED bulbs can also mitigate the effects of the negative event.

Controls for many negative events involve building emergency stores of water and food. Controls for positive events that involve a surplus of water and food might include implementing processes of production and storage that help increase self sufficiency. These controls should also be very useful for the negative events involving water and food.

One of the greatest gains from planning for positive events can come in the form of identifying controls that benefit both a negative and a positive event. In this case, it seems a simple decision to implement such a control.

RELATED ARTICLES:
Negative Events vs Positive Events
Contingency Plan
Making a Contingency Plan
Ethics Is About Survival
Knowns and Unknowns
Situation Awareness

Previous post:

Next post: