Should You Take a New Route?

Should You Take a New Route?

One of the major keys to success is to keep moving forward on the journey, making the best of the detours and interruptions, turning adversity into advantage .John C. Maxwell

One morning last summer, my husband and I ventured out on a long weekend trip. I entered our destination into our GPS, and it displayed our route. After two hours of following its voice commands, we missed our turn onto a major highway. The GPS “lady” said “Recalculating”. Our choices were to either turn around and get back to the highway or take a chance on the new route. With spare time and an adventurous spirit, we picked the latter. Our new route took us along a remote Kentucky backroad through scenic hills and small farms.  Our accidental change of plans was rewarded with beautiful scenery that we otherwise would have missed. Our little adventure spurred a thought about plans. How many times have you gotten upset, in either your business or personal life, when you “missed your turn” or had plans go awry? These “wrong turns” are inevitable, but sometimes they can be disguised opportunities, just like our country road detour.

Just as our GPS set our original direction, your strategy sets the direction and establishes priorities for your company. But no plan is perfect, and detours happen to all of us. Is there some value for you in the detour? Should you try it or try to get back to your original course? Here’s how to decide (see the summary table at the end):

  1. Check your attitude and beliefs. How open are you to “wrong turns”? Are you compelled to go back to your original route without considering other options? How quickly do you adapt to the unexpected?
  2. Have an early warning system that signals a missed turn. Our GPS announced “Recalculating” when we did. What warns you if your plan goes off track? Are you meeting your milestones? If not, do you need to adjust your plan, or maybe, your final goal?
  3. Have a system to test alternative paths to your destination. Longer plans dictate that you challenge your original assumptions at least annually. Are they still valid? What did you learn from the detour? Your “mistake” may lead to the next Coca-Cola or penicillin. 
  4. Sometimes, you need to change your destination. How much will you enjoy Yellowstone during a government shutdown? Even though roads and trails may be open, amenities  like campgrounds, restrooms, and restaurants may not. (Since I’m not a fan of primitive camping, my decision would be easy!)
  5. How good is your execution? How well do your “drivers” understand and follow your map?

Every detour contains lessons. Sometimes a wrong turn is a wrong turn and you need to correct course. Sometimes, though, a wrong turn is really a disguised “right” turn. How are open are you to recognizing these opportunities when they present themselves?

Consider these factors when you need to make a decision about your plan:

Should You Take a New Route?
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