Back-up Plans, the A Team, and Flexibility

It is important to have a back-up plan when creating the plan you hope will work. Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry and then it is time to revamp, evaluate, call in the A-Team, or whatever is needed to keep the levy from breaking.

I recently gave birth in a Birth Center with a midwife. Because we were not at a hospital (the hospital was only a few blocks away) we had two birth plans: the everything goes normal and the emergency plan in case of, well, emergencies. It included what we wanted in a worse case scenario, who was to go where, and important numbers. Though we appeared prepared, we forgot to plan for the contingency that something might go wrong with the baby. Our back-up was great as long as the problem only resided with me.

Sometimes even the best laid back-up plans go awry.

The thing is that, though we may not be able to plan for every facet of a failure or problem, we should have some notion in our minds of what we will do if Bad Things happen to our plans.

How do you plan for the worst while hoping for the best? What does this look like when implementing technology?

When planning a new venture at your library, consider these things:
What if something (funding, staff support, technology, training, the weather, or other things governed by Murphy’s Law) goes wrong or simply does not work? Am I willing to scrap X entirely or in part? Am I willing to adjust? What is the ROI, loss or gain, if we change gears?

This all sounds entirely pessimistic, but flexibility is a pillar of Web 2.0. Flexibility is one of the things that makes Web 2.0 work the way it does. I think we tend to treat the flexibility of Web 2.0 like it is a new concept when really we are just creating things that have built-in back-up plans.

Perhaps this is the way we should have sold the flexibility of Web 2.0 technologies in the beginning, because back-up plans are a known idea. Of course, many back-up plans require committees and actual written plans. This is not the sort of path I would recommend. Perhaps simple discussion of flexibility as a concept of back-up planning is still a way we can start discussions with people who struggle with the idea of beta and flexible technologies.

We should still remember that not all plans, normal or back-up, will work for the situation as it presents itself. The technology that looked great on a small scale may crumble when scaled for the masses, but we will never know until we try. Taking chances, even with a back-up plan in mind, is still a chance, but the benefits can be sweet indeed.

–Jane, all back-up plans should involve the A Team

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