The person who distinguishes him or herself the area of contingency planning will automatically earn the respect and action of top brass. This skill is highly valued by leaders in any organization.
Why? Because the person that can give good council about contingencies also will help protect and build the bottom line.
Public Relations executives are especially well-positioned for this role since they (should make it a point to) understand the stakeholders of a company and how they might react presented with different corporate decisions.
In other words, contingency planners can help executives make the right choices most of the time, which makes such a person the golden goose for top management. And it is very rewarding when your ideas are considered and adopted.
So what skills should one build to be a good contingency planner and catch the ear of the decision-makers?
1. Be Well Read. Read what others are saying about the organization, its industry and related topics. If you keep track of what others are saying, you will be better poised to respond.
2. Environmental Scanning. Take your eye off the obvious and look for the obscure. Ideas start on the fringes and then explode into the mainstream. Look for emerging trends, and start making plans to address these proactively. Philip Young had a good post about this.
3. Have Some Acceptable Choices in the Bag. When faced with any planning exercise, always consider three to five possible moves you could make that are acceptable. Rate these on a scale of best to worst and use them in that order.
4. Think Logically. “If-then” thinking needs to be exercised every day in order for it to naturally arise in a crisis situation or in a high-stakes executive planning session.
What have you found to be important in developing the skill of contingency planning?