I recently had the opportunity to rethink planning and its place in crisis management.
Halfway through a lengthy work trip, my purse was stolen out of my cart in the grocery store parking lot. This provided an excellent opportunity to polish up my crisis management skills, given that I had no cash, no credit cards, no checks, and no identification — while accruing expenses in the form of hotel and rental car bills.
After the initial shock and anger wore off, I got down to business.
I sat down and made a plan.
My plan looked like this:
Contact husband (who has all the same credit cards that I do)
List out contents of wallet
Contact credit & debit card companies
o Look up the toll free numbers online
o Convince one of them to FedEx me a new one to my hotel
Research options to get some cash
o Western Union
o Bank (mine had no branches in the city where I was)
o Borrow from people I met 10 days ago
Contact Work Travel card about currently accruing expenses and options
Call bank about lost check book
This list very much played to my J preference, the last part of the 4-letter Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). J’s like the world to be orderly and planned out, and then prefer to work through that plan methodically. That was perfect to get through the initial phase of this crisis.
Until I hit the last bullet. The bank recommended that I close my checking account and reopen another one. That not only required me to physically be home, it was a process I could not even start. Uh oh! It was time to flex over to the P side of the MBTI dichotomy. Time to embrace uncertainty and go with the flow. What choice did I have?
So that became the lesson for me to reflect on. I have a preference here for decisiveness and closure. I wanted to do what I had to do and move on. But I couldn’t. I needed to be flexible. Look for alternatives, make tentative plans.
If the question is to plan or not to plan, then the answer for me is a little of both. Plan out the next few steps. Then take them. See what opens up based on those steps. Then sit down and plan a little more. My favorite is to make a list. I was once such a good J that I had a Master List of my lists!
Those with a P preference like to call us J’s anal. I can live with that! I can plan my vacation so I know where I’ll be every day and still not know what I’ll do every minute.
Those with a J preference like to call the P’s scattered. I’m sure they can live with that, too. After all, if you know something is going to change, why waste all the time planning?
The trick is to know yourself and then realize that others are not like you.
Js, embrace your inner P-ness!
Ps, learn to accept that bosses expect projects to be ½ done when the time is ½ up!
So where are you on this? Do you like to plan your work and work your plan? Or are you the type who loves to skid into that deadline sideways? What have you seen play out at work or at home?
Leaving you with this from the lighter side of J: “I can be spontaneous! See, from 6:00-8:00 in my planner it says Spontaneous Time!”