The List of Horribles

Big Red Car here on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

It is in the high 40’s here in the ATX as we write this morning but it’s going to be 70F and partly cloudy this afternoon. This is what winter is supposed to be like, y’all.

So The Boss has been talking to five specific CEOs who have all uttered the same words, “Things are going suspiciously well.”

What a problem to have.

“Boss, when things are going this good, what should I be doing?” said one CEO who was not a stripling, inexperienced startup CEO (though he/she might have been one once upon a time) but an experienced, seasoned CEO who knew a good thing when smacked in the kisser by a bit of success. Well earned, mind you.

The answer is very simple, “Make a List of Horribles, beloved CEO.”

The List of Horribles

So what is the List of Horribles, Big Red Car? What are you talking about?

A List of Horribles is all the things that can transform your good juju into bad mojo. The things that go ‘bump in the night’ that can pop your little bubble of calm and prosperity.

The exercise is an attempt to anticipate bad things happening to good people (that would be you, beloved CEO) BEFORE they happen.

You want to call it “contingency planning?” OK, call it contingency planning.

Here’s the rub — some of these things ARE going to happen. The steady state of euphoria you are enjoying is NOT going to continue unchecked. Even if you bought the XXXXXL size of good karma at Sam’s, beloved CEO — things can and will change in a second.

Where do I look, Big Red Car?

Deconstruct your business –maybe start with your strengths — and consider what you will do if some of those things change.

Here is a quick scatter shot: Money, People, Market, Biggest Client, World Situation, Collections, Cash Flow, and the list goes on. Add in your personal health?

Make your list of target areas first and then subdivide it further.

“Big Red Car, that sounds like a lot of work. Do I have to?”

“No you don’t but if you do you will be glad you did it. You decide whether you want to be a pro or a semi-pro. Your choice, beloved CEO. Who knows? Maybe none of this stuff happens to you. Who knows? Experience, that mean bitch, tell the Big Red Car that some of it WILL happen.”

Can you give me a specific example, Big Red Car?

OK, sure. Take your organization chart and consider what happens if any of your top people get incapacitated. What will you do?

Create a contingency plan for internal replacement — short term contingency plan — and a plan for long term, external replacement.

Just knowing what the chain of command and the succession plan is going to be under these differing situations will save you a lot of time, effort, heartache, and angst should it happen to you.

Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Do this. Do this now.

Remember that lovely and delicious picture of the turkey that we started this post with? Here’s what that turkey looked like in the “before.” He failed to create a List of Horribles and his good juju turned into bad mojo quickly. Don’t be a clueless turkey, brilliant CEO. Do some contingency planning before your turkey is cooked.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all from the Big Red Car.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyhow? I’m just a Big Red Car. Happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful. Be careful out there. Be prudent.