Planning for Good Luck

Every win in my career has been due to hard work and great strategies. Every failure due to bad luck. About 10 years ago I won a million dollar a year support contract. It was due to the sensational sales strategy we had in place. Two years later the business folded due to bad luck (losing the two biggest customers in a six week period, one with a very large bad debt).

Does that sound strange?

Of course it does, as human beings with fragile ego’s we don’t like to admit mistakes. Consequently we blame luck for everything that goes wrong, but strategy for everything that goes right. But the truth is though that everything in that happens in our life occurs as a mixture of outcomes from effort or just plain luck.

But here’s what’s weird. In business we only actively plan for bad luck, not for good luck.

We:

  • Have a huge variety of insurances in place to cover off every conceivable outcome.
  • We create risk registers when planning new projects.
  • We take backups of our data
  • We create disaster recovery plans.

But we don’t plan for good luck because that would be considered as silly, and “a plan for idiots”.

But interestingly, in other areas people do plan for good luck.

In science, unexpected positive outcomes from research are considered normal and are expected. Experiments are designed so that they are open to unexpected outcomes, both positive and negative. The number of inventions that are a product of a unexpected outcome (see serendipity on Wikipedia) are legion.

The 16 year old boy, out on his first date keeps a condom in his wallet “just in case”.

In the military ,battle plans acknowledge good and bad luck. Orders will cover what do if things go horribly wrong -which they most likely will, plus what actions to take if you get an unexpected but positive outcome. Eg What should you do if the enemy retreats a lot further than expected?

These examples aren’t “betting the farm” on good luck, but they do show a preparedness to take advantage if things go your way.

Makes you wonder what you could achieve if you also prepared to get lucky.