Tuesday, November 22, 2016

But I Have A Good Idea

In the most recent GunBlog VarietyCast, Erin said something that really struck me: "I don't have a plan, but I have a good idea." On the surface, this seems a bit soft. The reality of the matter is that a good idea quite frequently beats a plan. There's a good reason for that.
"Take car. Go to Mum's. Kill Phil - "Sorry." - grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over. How's that for a slice of fried gold?" - Shaun of the Dead
That's a plan, and a pretty impressive one. However, it took some amusing hammering out to get to, and if you watch the movie, you see just how well the plan actually works.

The problem with plans is that they're usually very rigid, and depend on a very specific set of things happening in order to work. For example, let's say that my bugout plan is to make tracks for the family farm. There are a lot of benefits to being at the farm, including food, good separation from my current location, and a fair bit of security. However, one or two road closures or certain weather conditions can completely derail my plan, and any of these game-killers is very likely.
The aforementioned "good idea" allows for a lot more flexibility than a plan. However, "We need to be somewhere that isn't here" lacks a lot of structure and direction. That is dangerous in the other direction. Without focus and direction and practice, people tend to freeze in crisis situations. So if a plan is too strict, and an idea doesn't get us anywhere, what do we do?

The best solution I've found is to have a series of small plans instead of one large one. Instead of a "head to the farm" bugout plan, I have a couple plans in place. Plans 1 and 2 are being aware of danger and grabbing some pre-staged supplies. From there, depending on the specifics of the emergency, we may fall back to my parents' home (45 minutes north), my mother-in-law (5 minutes south), or the farm or more disparate points.

Each of these courses of action has a different plan in place, covering routes and alternates, supplies needed, and other specifics: my mother in law is easy to get to, but is very lightly geared; my parents have a plethora of tools and food, but minimal defenses, and they lack a few other specific supplies; the further-afield alternates are great for shelter and security, but with limited foodstuffs and tools.
"Give me a minute, I'm good. Give me an hour, I'm great. Give me six months, I'm unbeatable." - Hannibal Smith, The A-Team
While improvisation is a handy skill, that's not what we're driving at here. Instead, treat it as a flow chart. Each decision you make leads to another set of options, and each option comes with its own built-in plan.

That feels awful wordy, so here's an example:
  1. An emergency occurs, which requires my wife and I to bug out. It is a large enough emergency that my mother-in-law's house is not an option, but my parents' home is.
  2. We notify the family that we're coming, both out of courtesy and so that they can be ready.
  3. We gather our supplies and cats and load one of the trucks while selecting the best route. 
  4. While we travel, one person monitors the radio and a mapping/traffic app while the other drives. We're both good navigators and on familiar ground, so either of us can handle this.
After step 1, the rest of the steps of the plan are entirely flexible. We can easily make changes to react to a road closure, or additional family needs, or any of the other million and one things that derail the best-laid grand plans on a daily basis.

I love it when a plan comes together!


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