In web design and development, there is a certain type of concept that every designer/developer should understand when creating web pages. It’s called a fall back and it ensures that “everyone can join the party.” In other words, you may not see the latest visual effects if you are using an older browser version, but the actual page content is still accessible.
A fall back is kind of a backup plan: If Plan A becomes obsolete, there is always a Plan B in place. Now, when you take consider the fall back concept, how do you make sure you take advantage of this strategy in your own life?
Why we ignore the plan B?
Unfortunately, too often we rely on luck and on assumptions. In fact, we ignore the Plan B entirely since we assume that our master plan works OK. When we do this, we don’t feel the urge to have a fall back in place.
Having a fall back strategy requires an extra effort that many of us are not willing to take. For instance, let’s say that you are travelling to another town by using a train. In order to get to the train station, you need to hop onto the bus to get there. However, what happens if the bus never arrives?
This is something that just occurred to me and having a backup strategy helped me to catch the train in time. I had mistakenly looked at the bus schedules for the wrong day, but I immediately knew what to do (I took the cab instead).
Had I not have the plan B, my schedule had changed too much for the day and I had felt frustrated. Since setting this fall back strategy took just a couple of minutes of my time, it was time well spent and literally saved my day.
Which things are worth of a fall back strategy?
“If this fall back thingie is so great, should I always have a backup plan in place?” I hear you asking. My answer is: “No.”
You have to consider if something is worth a fall back plan or not. In many cases having one in place is beneficial, but in some other situations having this kind of plan is just overkill. The way you make the distinction whether something is worth the plan or not is by the value it holds.
For instance, if it’s absolutely imperative that you have to meet a certain client at certain time, you want to make sure you can show up to the meeting in time. However, if you plan is to cut the grass, but it’s raining and you can’t do it, the thing isn’t probably worth having a fall back plan.
The bigger investment there is at stake, the more you should think about the Plan B if something goes wrong with the original plan.
How to create a fall back plan?
Now that you understand the importance of a fall back strategy, it’s time to put all this into practice and take a look how to create a solid Plan B for whatever you do.
1. Understand the value and the consequences. Not every task is worth a backup plan. For instance, like in the cutting the grass example, it doesn’t have any long-term effects if you can’t do it right when you planned it. However, if the future your business relies on meeting with your key customer, you better have Plan B in place.
When you understand the long-term value and the possible consequences of the coming task (especially if you fail to do it), it’s easier to decide if the fall back plan is necessary or not.
2. Block your time. If you decided to create a Plan B, make sure that you can actually do the planning in peace. Block the time in your calendar and possibly “isolate” yourself into a location where you can do your thinking without distraction.
If you can’t do the planning at home, go outside to the nearest park, go to a coffee shop or go to a public library if needed. The better focus you have, the better chances you have to create a plan which actually works in real life.
3. Go through the scenario in your head. Having a plan in place and actually executing the plan in practice are two separate things. That’s why it’s important to visualize the scenario in your head in advance.
For instance, I’m using this very strategy to ensure that I have all the necessary equipment with me when I travel to triathlon or marathon races. I close my eyes and go through the whole process of dressing myself with the racing gear to completing the actual race. That helps me to pack the necessary stuff with me when I travel.
Do the same kind of visualisation but apply it to your situation. That way it’s easier to see if the plan actually works or not.
4. If the Plan B fails, don’t blame yourself. We are humans and sometimes even the backup plans don’t work. If this happens, blaming yourself doesn’t really help the situation.
Instead, understand what went wrong and learn from the experience. Just analyze the situation and move on.
A better alternative is to include the possibility of the failure in the planning phase (step #2). What you do is that you are aware of all the possible outcomes and that way you can mentally prepare for everything that could possibly happen.
Having a fall back strategy in place saves you from a lot of frustration and stress. Unfortunately, too often it’s ignored because people don’t understand its importance.
Make sure to evaluate the value and long term effects of the thing you are about to do. This way it’s easier to see if it’s worth a fall back plan or not.
Over to you: What tasks are worth of a fall back strategy?