Burn the Ships (Forget Plan B!)

How do you manage your business?

It is all about planning, planning and more, PLANNING.

And how many plans do you have?

Plan A and Plan B? (Please don’t admit to a Plan C too!).


By all means have a plan A and a plan B, but remember:

In business, as in life,

You get what you FOCUS on.

If you focus on achieving your goal with a thought-through Plan A, you can just neatly tuck that Plan B away to gather dust somewhere.

But now you may be wondering how to get a thought-through Plan A.

This comes as a surprise to most, but:

ISO 9001 (and similar international business standards) are about helping you to develop a thought-through plan that achieves your goals in business.

It is NOT about documentation, undertaking tasks that you don’t need to do, it is not disruptive to your business as it should ALWAYS be about managing your business.

ISO 9001 as a Business Management System guides you through the process of focusing and achieving your goals.


Your Keys to success

One of the keys to reaching your goals is to eliminate the need for a Plan B.

It’s tempting to retreat to the perceived safety and comfort of a secondary plan when challenges and difficulties arise. Instead, avoid turning around and abandoning your goals. Make going forward more compelling than abandoning the route to success at the sign of troubles.

Now while history doesn’t repeat itself, it does chime rather well.

One extreme example highlights the power of committing to Plan A:
When Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico, one of his first orders to his men was to burn the ships. Cortez was committed to his mission and did not want to allow himself or his men the option of going back to Spain. By removing this option, Cortez and his men were forced to focus on how they could make the mission successful.

Eliminating an escape route creates a compelling reason to focus on the goal and to keep moving forward.

However, it is important to keep in mind that although Cortez had his men burn the ships, he did not have them burn the food and supplies.

Cutting off an escape route to increase motivation and create the desire to press on where you might otherwise give up is totally different from throwing caution to the wind and taking undue risks.

Reaching your goals still requires prudent planning and managing.


All goals contain a certain degree of risk, but it’s important NOT to create undue risk and stress by not properly planning and thus lacking the necessary tools and supplies to achieve your goal. Take “measured” risks, but don’t be careless or foolish and simply hope that everything will be okay.

To use a more modern example, I have seen senior management ‘assume’ because they have set the plan, that it is inevitable that it will be completed by ‘someone’. This someone, unless they have taken ownership will not, necessarily understand the importance of the project/plan. AND, predictably perhaps, the project fails!

So don’t pay “lip service” to the plan or the means by which you communicate it to those you expect to undertake it.

This MUST be part of the plan.

But, before you decide to burn your ships, make sure you have the supplies and resources necessary to achieve the goal.

So, close off the escape routes.

Resign Plan B to a forgettable location.

Remind yourself of the compelling reason to move forward. However, at the same time, make sure that you plan for the risk and have the tools, supplies and resources you need to achieve your goals.

You can’t eliminate risk, but you can plan for it.

And ISO helps you to think through the process and have a solid Plan A for moving forward so you’ll be the master of your ship once again.

And that’ll be quality.


Quality is NOT expensive, it’s PRICELESS