Steps to Management Success – Step 5: They Call It Murphy’s Law for a Reason

Written By Rick Frishman Published March 28th, 2010

STEP FIVE

They Call It Murphy’s Law for a Reason

If something can go wrong, it will. There’s a reason this axiom is called Murphy’s Law, not Murphy’s Reminder. So plan for the unexpected. Failing to plan realistically—overestimating sales; underestimating costs and time to market; and then failing to plan for the inevitable twists, bumps, and craters along the way—is the primary reason why most business start-ups fail. But even established companies tend to be far too rosy in their plans and forecasts and don’t leave themselves a margin of error. If you’re not willing to ground your plans in reality to make things appear to be better than they are, you’re asking for trouble.

WHAT IT MEANS: In the real world, projects take longer and cost more than expected for all sorts of reasons. People get sick or quit. Shipments of critical components arrive late due to a natural disaster. A key supplier goes out of business. A last-minute technical glitch—one you or your team never anticipated—stops development dead in its tracks.

ACTION PLAN: Add some wiggle room to your budgets and project timelines. Chances are, you’re going to need it. And if not, you will have pulled off a minor managerial miracle—a project that did even better than planned!

EVEN BETTER: Set up regular meetings to evaluate all aspects of major projects you’re working on, and focus on what new developments have occurred. If you can use these meetings to forecast potential problems and keep them under control, you might be able to break Murphy’s Law more than you’d expect.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)


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