By James McIntosh, James McIntosh Coaching

Here is a little-known fact about me. I am working on my second million. That’s right, my second million. My first million was a complete disaster.

Hang on. Before I continue, what did you assume I meant with my question, “Want to make a million?” Make a million dollars? Make a million (fill in your currency here)? Or did you assume ‘make a million people happy’? Or ‘make a million trees grow in the desert’? (See Saudi Arabia’s goal to plant 10 billion trees. Now that’s a plan!) Actually, it does not matter what you assumed. What matters is that you have a Plan B. And a Plan C. And even a Plan D.

Many so-called experts will tell you that you must have a dream and then you must focus on it relentlessly, selfishly, unflinchingly, and unfailingly. Well, that recipe might work for some people, but not for me. I seem to stumble upon ideas and slip into doing things I like and that make sense, and somehow I earn money doing so.

Do you know what I’ve learned from all this stumbling and slipping? Always have a Plan B.

Actually, the key to success for people like me, the ones who cannot focus single-mindedly on one dream, is this: Dream about your Plan A, but always execute your Plan B. Successful people are good at Plan B, where the second million is made.

What about successful companies? Do they have a Plan B? Definitely. And they also have a Plan C. But very few have a Plan D.

Let’s start with Plan B. In this case, B stands for Backup. When was the last time you bothered to check your recovery process in the event of a power outage (data systems) or a catastrophe (operating processes)? (Actually, now that I think of it, this applies to you and me, at home, as well.) My question is not whether you have a Plan B. Many managers and businesses brag about their Plan B. My question is whether you verify and test your Plan B.

Now tell me about your Plan C. In this case, C stands for Continuity. What procedures do you have in place for others to follow if you become incapacitated indefinitely? Please note that Plan C is not about you. It is about them. It is about whether your colleagues will scramble or step up. Because you left them in the dark or left them prepared. (And yes, now that I think of it, this applies to you and me, at home, as well.)

If your corporate information is unimportant, your processes irrelevant and your role inconsequential, then don’t bother with a Plan B and a Plan C. (Does this apply to you and me, at home, as well? I wonder.)

Now let’s talk about you personally, at home. Should you have a Plan B-for-Backup? Well, that depends on what would happen (to you) if your personal information and documents, your smartphone and laptop, disappeared.

Should you have a Plan C-for-Continuity? Well, that depends on how much you like the idea of your spouse and/or partner and/or kids cursing you as they try to make sense of your last wishes and whatever critical documents you password protected.

Let’s be clear. Plan C-for-Continuity is for *them*, so they can continue with as little hassle as possible. What *you* need is a Plan D-for-Dy… but I’m sure you can work out what that stands for.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.


Since 1990, James has served as an independent executive leadership coach. Throughout his career, he has held positions as CEO and Executive Director in both private and public companies. These roles provided him with valuable insights into workplace nonsense, which has become his primary focus in his writing and speaking engagements since 2006. To learn more about his coaching, click here; To explore his take on nonsense at work, click here; to subscribe to his missives on life, work, and nonsense, click here.