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

Achieve Your Goals WITH A Plan of Action

Vision without ACTION is just a dream.
Action without vision is just passing time.
Vision WITH action can change the world.
Joel A. Barker

If you have ever set goals before, but failed to achieve them, it may have been because you did not create a specific plan of action to accomplish those goals.

Taking the time to set goals is only part of the process of goal setting, and many people often overlook the other part, creating a plan!

Without a plan your goals remain incomplete.

It’s like having a destination but without a map.

Your goals tell you where you want to go in life, and your plan tells you how to get there.

A goal plan is simply a list of scheduled activities with milestones that you will complete along the way. These may include activities done over a series of days, weeks, months or even years depending on the type of goal you set for yourself.

Your plan does not have to be completed perfectly the first time. Usually, you will find that your first attempt at creating a goal plan will be vague and incomplete.Don’t worry this is ok. Plans should be flexible and so are likely to be constantly updated as you move towards completing your primary goal.

In your plan you should therefore create a series of steps, you think you need in order to accomplish that goal. So think of it like baking a cake. Your ultimate goal is to make a cake (and eat it!), but the ‘recipe’ and the ingredients and the things you do with those ingredients are your plan. Once you follow the recipe you complete the plan, you complete your goal or maybe that should be, have your cake and eat it!

Creating a goal plan is frequently overlooked, and many people discipline themselves to write their goals every day but create no plan! So, make sure you take the time to decide where you want to go (your goals) and then create a plan that will tell you how to get there!

You can start from scratch, or you can create a plan using information from those who have done this before.

In your personal life that may mean, perhaps, joining a fitness class or even getting a personal trainer. Or perhaps signing up to the evening class or short course. In business, it may be committing to a proven systemised approach like Kaizen, Lean or ISO certification.

Then embed those goals into your life. Revisit them 10 minutes every day.

At home it may be some visualisation techniques before bedtime.

At work it might be the ten minute team huddle to remind people of the goal and the immediate steps that need to be taken that day.

But, we are a bit ahead of ourselves. Get the plan down in writing first.

If you’re in business then reach out, I’ve got some proven ways to help you and increase the likelihood you will accomplish them.

Are you missing the KEY to YOUR Success?

  • Are you currently struggling to reach your objectives?
  • Do you have everything in life that you desire?
  • Is it easy for you to reach your goals after every success?
  • Are you calm and patient at all times?


  • Are you frustrated, angry and disappointed at your lack of progress in life?

If you are not living the life you wish to live, then the solution lies in your mind!

Your mind has two parts, the conscious thinking logical part and the unconscious part. Your conscious mind is that part of your mind you are using right now to read and analyse these words. However, it is the subconscious part of your mind that is interpreting the symbols on the page and telling you what they represent. This part of your mind is more powerful than you can imagine and is capable of helping you in ways that seem miraculous at times.

Everything that has ever occurred in your life is stored somewhere in the subconscious part of your mind. It is literally an unlimited warehouse for memories and emotions. This is an extremely important aspect of the subconscious mind. You need to have instant access to this stored information so that you can find your way home, remember names and faces, how to do your job etc., it does have major disadvantages!

Not only does your subconscious mind store valuable information it also stores essential emotions. For example, it stores the emotion of pain and fear connected to certain activities such as placing your hand too close to fire. When you find yourself getting too close to fire and feel the heat on your skin your subconscious mind will immediately alert you with a feeling of fear. This mechanism is designed to keep you safe and works very effectively. It also works to your advantage by replaying positive emotions connected to certain situations – think of a time when you caught a glimpse of your spouse or child, heard a piece of music or smelt some perfume or aftershave and were immediately reminded of an earlier time that evoked strong loving emotions.

Therefore, we can view your subconscious mind as acting, in its simplest role, as a recording and playback mechanism – a bit like a fully interactive video recorder. The things that occur to you in your life are recorded and then played back when you access those memories. The problem that often arises though is when incorrect or inappropriate emotional memories are accessed by the subconscious mind when you find yourself in new situations. If your subconscious mind has been “programmed” with negative emotions or a negative self-image then these are the things it will play back to you when you try something new or reach out past your comfort zone.

Cost of Quality

Cost of Quality (COQ) is a way of measuring the costs associated with ensuring that a Culture of Quality thrives in an organisation, as well as the costs associated with Quality failures. There are four types of Quality-related costs:

Prevention costs
These are our planned cost of ensuring that our design and implementation of the QMS supports the operation. Think of it in the same light as “maintenance costs”, which are accepted part of the overheads of running an operation. We wouldn’t think of omitting these, so we should have the same desire and intention to include effective “quality” management costs.

Appraisal costs
These costs are the result of measuring the effectiveness of a Quality Management System and apply to both manufacturers and the supply chain. These costs include verification, Quality audits, and supplier assessment.

Internal failure costs
These costs are associated with discovering failures in our systems, which include the assessment of quality, with the important feature being we identify these BEFORE they are delivered to or collected by the customer.
They include waste from poor processes, excessive scrap, rework to correct errors, and the activity required to diagnose the cause of Quality failures.

External failure costs
Another way of looking at this is “reputation cost” as these costs only become apparent after the product or service has been delivered or used by the customer. Also, these costs escalate within the business such that if it is deemed significant, then senior management- even the Managing Director – are usually involved to discuss the reasons with the customer and placate any unfortunate actions which may result.

Your reputation has been dented and can only be recovered by prompt and professional action.

Therefore, one of the areas which the management team (including the Quality Manager) often ignore all the hidden costs, which few people discuss and make appropriate allowances.

These hidden costs must be assessed under the title of “Cost of Poor Quality” or COPQ.



This is the area of the business, which everybody, including senior management would rather not discuss and sweep it under the carpet, in the hope that it won’t be noticed.

C O P Q.  We tend to want to ignore this because it is an embarrassment AND it is also difficult to measure with accuracy. This is where we really test the Culture of Quality in our business.

The primary consequences of COPQ are the most obvious. Costs associated with process failures inside the organisation include:

  • Excess scrap and waste material created by inefficient manufacturing processes
  • Rework on defective or damaged products before they ship to market
  • Retesting and analysing processes and procedures to determine point of failure
  • Recalls
  • Warranties
  • Complaints
  • Returns
  • Repairs
  • Field support.


The traditional Cost of Poor Quality has usually been assumed to be between 4% and 5% of an organisation’s annual revenue. How is that with you? If you’re saying that is not true for me – best check again.

It’s like an iceberg! And issues associated with COPQ can include:

  • Decreased employee engagement
  • Higher employee turnover and attrition
  • Employees addressing Quality failures instead of focusing on Quality improvement through innovation
  • Overtime costs
  • Machine downtime
  • Long-term customer dissatisfaction
  • Brand damage
  • Poor inventory turnover
  • Decreased customer lifetime value.


When we account for these hidden and long-term costs, COPQ is more like 10% to 25% of an organisation’s annual revenue. Investing in Quality is therefore the most effective way of reducing these staggering costs.

Efficiency or Effectiveness?

Efficiency and effectiveness.  Are these words interchangeable, or do they have specific inference in the context of business?


Efficiency. The ability to avoid wasting materials, energy, efforts, money and time in doing something or in producing a desired result. In a more general sense, it is the ability to do things well, successfully and without waste.

Effectiveness. When something is deemed effective, it means it has reached the intended or expected outcome.


Key Differences Between Efficiency and Effectiveness

1. The ability to produce maximum output with limited resources is known as efficiency. The level of the nearness of the actual result with the planned result is effectiveness.

2. Efficiency is ‘to do the things perfectly’ whilst effectiveness is ‘to do planned things exceptionally’.

3. Efficiency has a short run perspective. Conversely, the long run is the point of view of effectiveness.

4. Efficiency is yield-oriented, unlike effectiveness which is result oriented.

5. Efficiency is to be maintained at the time of strategy implementation, whereas strategy formulation requires effectiveness.


For your consideration:

Efficiency and effectiveness both have a prominent place in the business environment. Both must be maintained by the organisation because its success depends on them.

Efficiency has an introspective approach, i.e. it measures the performance of operations, processes, workers, cost, time etc. inside the organisation. It has a clear focus on reducing the expenditure or wastage, or eliminating unnecessary costs to achieve the output with a stated number of inputs.

Effectiveness has an extroverted approach that highlights the relationship of the business organisation, with customers and the rest of the world, to attain a competitive position in the market. It helps the organisation to judge the potency of the whole organisation by making strategies and choosing the best means for the attainment result.

By all means plan to work with ‘efficiency’ BUT remember the customer will be gauging how ‘effective’ your product or service was versus your original promises.


ISO 9001 and other business standards are focused on your ‘effectiveness’ meeting the requirements.